Staying fit through locked down summer holidays

Desk dad turned ironman Darren Kirby has advice for dads worried about how they’ll stay fit through a uniquely tricky school summer holiday

Fitter healthier dad Darren Kirby who writes about the health benefits of going self employed


When it comes to fitness many dads are facing a perfect storm of working from home, many gyms remaining closed and a school summer holiday constrained by coronavirus measures. But there’s certainly no need to give up. Darren Kirby overhauled his lifestyle after signing up for an ironman competition while sitting at his desk. Now he runs his own business – Fitter Healthier Dad offering fitness programmes to dads aged over 40. Here he offers tips for keeping healthy during the current situation.

We are living in strange and unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over. Our health is being put at risk and it is in times like these we all start to appreciate and value our health.

Many gyms remain shut, people are still working from home and government advice remains to spend most of our time at home. So how do you pay attention to your fitness?

Below are 5 simple practices you can implement;


This can be done inside or outside. You don’t need any equipment or a lot of space. There are lots of variations you can do.
As a start you can do five exercises: 40 seconds of work each set with a 1-minute rest in between. As an example;

Four rounds

  • Exercise 1 – Star Jumps
  • Exercise 2 – Mountain Climbers
  • Exercise 3 – High Knees
  • Exercise 4 – Squat Jumps
  • Exercise 5 – Burpees

This will take you around 20 mins to complete and is a good all-round full body work out.


Yoga is very beneficial for our functional movement and our stress levels. In times like now we want to be reducing our stress levels as much as possible.

Yoga should be done by both men and women. The practice of yoga from a physical aspect enables us to become more flexible and move in a more natural way which reduces physical stress on the body. The breathing required to get into the positions ensures that we are controlling our nervous systems which have a calming relaxing effect.

I would advocate doing yoga at least three times a week. Classes aren’t available right now but there are plenty of yoga based channels on YouTube.

A great resource is The Strength Temple on YouTube.


Yes sleep is key to health and fitness, getting 7-8 hours of sleep is very important. Sleep is when the body recovers, it repairs the muscles and grows, it’s also when the mind does a complete reset

Lack of sleep causes us to lose concentration and is also when we are more inclined to reach for caffeine and sugar-based food to overcome tiredness and struggles around concentration

Some of the things you can do to ensure you get a good night’s sleep;

  • Stay away from screens and electronic devices one hour before bed (blue light from screens slows down our production of melatonin the sleep hormone).
  • Stop eating three hours before you’re due to go to sleep, this ensures your digestive system isn’t trying to digest food.
  • Don’t have any caffeine eight hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and it takes eight hours to be processed for our bodies. Having a coffee at 5 pm in the evening will disrupt your sleep.


Watching your food intake is important. It’s very easy to let boredom, stress or frustration lead us to think we are hungry and to attack the fridge.

If you are less active than normal, simply look at your portion sizes and eat less. Make sure you are drinking enough water as being dehydrated can be confused with being hungry

Eat nutrient-dense food. Being at home more means we have the opportunity to create more home-cooked foods using natural ingredients.

Having a balanced plate is very important. Go for a good balance of vegetables, meat or fish (tofu if you’re vegan) with low-gi carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice etc

Try and avoid sugary based snacks and chocolate. These will leave you feeling lethargic once the sugar subsides and these products contain vegetable oils which are the worst kind. They create inflammation in the body, inflammation will affect your alertness and stress levels.


Social distancing recommendations remain in place. However, if you are able to be safe and keep your distance from others when going outside going for a walk, targeting 10-15k steps per day is beneficial for a number of reasons.

Walking is classed as low-intensity steady-state cardio and works in the lower heart rate regions of 55-65% which is in the fat-burning area. But you need to be getting a minimum of 10-15k steps a day

Walking outside exposes us to the sunlight for Vitamin D which is great for our mood and serotonin levels (the happy hormone).

Being outside in the fresh air and mindfully breathing through our noses when walking helps reduce our stress levels.

These are five basic and very easy to achieve practices we can use on a daily basis not just in these challenging times but habits you can form and use ongoing for an all-around approach to fitness and long term health.

For more information and FREE resources, you can check out our blog at, our podcast Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast! And our youtube channel Fitter Healthier Dad TV.

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