OVERNIGHT, just over a week ago, the country was plunged into unchartered waters. We were to be thrown into lockdown; our liberties removed - for the foreseeable future - and our shopping habits curtailed.

For a self-employed fitness trainer, running Sharon’s Fitness for Life, in Ingleton, it presented Sharon Rucastle with the problem of keeping the exercise regimes of her clients on an even keel without the usual one-to-one instruction they were used to.

The former bank manager who turned into a health and exercise guru after feeling she was becoming unfit, Sharon has maintained links wit her clients, giving them weekly routines to follow so the good efforts they have made are not wasted.

But as well as keeping in touch with her charges, Sharon has offered to put pen to paper and come up with ideas and tips to get Herald readers up and exercising in the comfort of their own homes.

Here she presents her exercise ideas to get us through lockdown and come out the other side healthy and happy.

She explains: “It is important to try and keep active and healthy during these unusual times. It will help keep you feeling happier and fitter if you can find ways to exercise and form some sort of new routine.

“You may be concerned that after all this it will have affected your ability to exercise and that all the gains you have made will be lost or simply that you will not be able to move as well as before, things are starting to feel more difficult already. It really could be use it or lose it.

“The good news is that there are things you can put in place to help cope with this time.

“The first thing is to GET UP in a morning. You have a sleep/wake cycle set in your body clock – the circadian rhythm.

“If you start staying in bed for large chunks of the day you will upset this and you will feel groggy and lethargic.

“Get up, have a shower/wash, clean your teeth and dress nicely. Although you are not rushing out to work use the extra time to prepare a nice breakfast, why not try a different one each day?

“Morning stretches are good, stretch that body out and start to move. Plan your day, have you got enough food? Do you need some shopping?

“How about having a look at all those recipes and books you have in a cupboard and planning some different meals. “We all have recipes we meant to try sometime; now is the time.Try to get some protein into your diet, it is important for retaining and building muscle.

“Carbohydrates are important but it is easy to move into a comfortable carb diet just now: porridge for breakfast, sandwich at lunch and can’t be bothered toast and cake for tea. Get plenty of colourful fruit and veg in there too. “Don’t be afraid to use some spices and make it interesting.

If you have never cooked much before the television has lots of cooking programmes and many recipes are fairly easy to follow.

“If you are looking to lose a few pounds why not take this opportunity to form some new habits?

“The good news is there is no need to spend your money on magic pills or potions or starve yourself.

“If you eat good food and eat, say, 500 calories less than you use per day you will be in a calorie deficit and that is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.

“Maybe this is a time to step off the yo-yo dieting treadmill and eat good healthy food. There are lots of calorie and nutrition free Apps out there. Keep track for a few days.

“Try and get out in the fresh air each day for around 30 minutes.

“If you are active and able, go for a walk. If this is new for you, start with a short walk and build up your pace and distance over time.

“Keep mindful about distancing from others whilst out there.

“If you are a runner go for a run. It is easy to put it off ‘til later as you have all day and eventually not go. Plan a time and go.

“If you are immobile sit in the garden if you have one, or at least try and get outdoors. I defy anyone not to feel better, especially as we live in such a beautiful area.

“Feel the breeze, sun and rain on your face. You’ll also get some Vitamin D whilst you’re at it.

“Exercise is for all ages, I have clients from teens to age 70 and beyond. The important thing is to start where you are a build up to where you want to be.

“The problem is the more you sit, the more you want to sit and the less you can do. Get up. The simplest of exercises is standing up and sitting down five to 10 times without using the arms of the chair or the table to haul yourself up. Please do this safely. If you need a little help at first, use it but practice. This is basic to keep your core and leg muscles available to keep you mobile as you get older. “Many of you have bits of exercise equipment gathering dust around the house. Now is the time to have another go with them. Remember when you got them? You used them every day and then the novelty wore off. It is always difficult to stay motivated on your own and if your equipment is limited you get bored.

“Now is the time to discover that new excitement you had when you bought it. Take the clothes off that exercise bike and climb aboard!

“There are lots of exercise plans on the internet so have a look. Start with something you can manage and don’t forget to push yourself and get breathless to work your cardio system and to get your heart rate up. Your heart is a muscle that needs working too. Always make sure you are safe, though.

“If you have a personal trainer they may well help you with some training ideas whilst you are at home, or even to keep you going whilst you are so busy if you are a key worker on the front line.

“Exercise is holistic and is good for the body, mental and spiritual health. For my clients I am giving them two small plans per week and a phone call to see how they are getting along.

“Communication is important. Pick up the phone and talk to your friends, check on your neighbours, do they need any help with shopping and prescriptions or are they simply in need of a chat.

“Does that young mum need a sympathetic ear. Let’s use this time to get back to looking after each other.

“Don’t forget all those jobs you were going to do when you have time. The time is now. If you are a crafter with lots of projects stacked up for when you get around to them, this is your moment. Have you ever thought of signing up to a short home learning course? Personally I am planning gardening jobs, crafting and having the cleanest cupboards in the world with piles of charity shop and jumble sale items ready for when this time passes.

“Keep moving, keep busy, keep in contact with people. This time will pass.”