Physical activity has been one of the few positive things we’ve been encouraged to still do since Covid-19 changed all our lives in 2020.
With new social distancing rules, and organising activities and venues having to stop and start, many people across south Leeds have been finding new ways to stay active and healthy. We heard some of their stories – and would love to hear yours too (see below).
Clara (Beeston Hill):
“Before lockdown, I had gym membership, although it was hard to stay motivated. But this last year, I’ve learnt to cycle for the first time, and I really love it! I cycle with my family or on my own, and I don’t feel like I’m actually exercising: it’s fun, and a lot easier to motivate myself to do it.”
Another new cyclist Julie (in Beeston) told us:
“Last year was hard, I started to feel anxious and depressed – and even though I’d been a fitness instructor, I found it difficult to sustain doing exercise at home.
“So I borrowed my brother’s bicycle and started to cycle; it great to get outdoors, to get exercise, and it gave me such a buzz. I could feel the anxiety and depression lift every time l cycled.”
Julie has now set up a new local cycling group, in conjunction with the Big Bike Fix.
Kay-Lee (Belle Isle):
“We got our daughter a new set of roller-skates for Christmas, to keep her active and healthy, and to give her a new challenge to master. Teaching her has been really funny, a highlight of this recent lockdown.”
“I felt down during lockdown, and wanted some time to feel like me again, and not just mum or wife – so I joined DAZL’s online dancefit sessions. I was a little bit apprehensive at first, as my dancing wasn’t the best – but I now really look forward to it. It’s made me feel more confident, I can have a laugh whilst exercising, and I’m getting my daily steps in!”
“Staying active’s been the highlight of lockdown. It’s kept my mental and physical health in check, much needed when you’re a teacher and mother of 6 year-old twins! Most recently, I did ‘Red January’, to raise money for Mind (exercising every day); I did it with a group of 20 women, and it was amazing to have support and learn new ways to stay active.”
Freda (Beeston Hill):
“Active probably isn’t quite the right word – but embroidery, crosswords and jigsaws have kept the old grey cells from seizing up, and an active brain keeps you going.”
LS-Ten skatepark in Hunslet have kept their doors open as much as Covid-19 restrictions have allowed, and have seen a huge increase in beginners and new people coming to the park. Staff member Tosh tell us:
“There’s been an increase in under 8s and families, women skateboarders, and especially women’s Quad Skating (rollerskating). You can do the sport on any flat ground, its affordable, it’s a great way of exercise, and most of all you’re doing it whilst having fun.”
Kidz Klub Leeds developed a ‘WOW’ (Winter Outside Walks) initiative, of which local resident and project coordinator Laura said:
“Some of our Kidz Klub families have used the WOW discovery sheets, which are really just silly scavenger hunts that help you explore your local area, discover local pocket parks and things you’ve never seen before, and do activities like bird spotting and making snowmen.”
St Mary’s Primary School in Hunslet have been running a challenge encouraging their pupils to climb their stairs at home (3m each time) enough times to have reached the equivalent of landmarks like Leeds’ tallest building (120m), the world’s tallest skyscraper (1350m), Mont Blanc (4400m), and even Everest (8850m)!
These are just a few of the many positive active things local people have taken on. Others tell us that they have kept active by: walking their dog more; playing on their wii games console; building igloos, and scraping up ice from around their neighbourhood, during the cold snap; and picking up their kids’ lego on repeat!
We’d love to hear what other activities you’ve been discovering – on your own, or with your family. For more info and ideas, free online sessions, and more, visit: active.leeds.gov.uk. And if you’re in Beeston Hill or Holbeck, find out more about the Get Set Leeds Local project in your area, working with local people to make being active the easier choice.