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In lockdown, bake your banana bread but take those 10,000 steps too

If you have not been exercising, set yourself the goal of doing 10,000 steps a day and see how far you can travel

The aim is to keep the muscles and limbs engaged, and the mind focused. (iStockPhoto)
The aim is to keep the muscles and limbs engaged, and the mind focused. (iStockPhoto)

John Griffin ascended Mount Everest without stepping out of his three-storey Georgian home in southern England by going up and down the staircase in his house during the lockdown. It took him four days (31 March-3 April), 1,363 trips to the top of the house (going down didn't count) to reach 8,850m and raise money for a charity that supports UK food banks.

“Like in any challenge, it’s about setting goals," said Griffin to CNN Sport.

If you have been spending your time during the lockdown watching Netflix, baking or reading every bit of information online on the coronavirus, it maybe time to set a different goal. If climbing is strenuous, consider walking to Antarctica—the only continent still free of the coronavirus. The target should be 10,000 steps a day; you can do more if you want. The aim is to keep the muscles and limbs engaged, and the mind focused. Stagger the steps: 5,000 in the first half of the day and the remaining before dinner.

Start from the main door of the house, walk through the hall-cum-dining space, turn into the bedroom, and then back to the main door. That's how my flat is laid out, your floor plan could be different. On the way, I pass the fridge, kitchen, a bathroom and the dining table. You could pace up and down two facing bedrooms.

I started my 10,000 steps a day journey three weeks ago; I use the Heart app on my phone. In the first week of the lockdown, the app showed that I was managing only 4,000 steps as I tried to juggle WFH, housework and the panic of the unknown, which all of us are dealing with right now. Then I figured out the routine, and it got easier.

My first round of pacing is around 10.30am, when I put the rice to cook on the gas on low flame. After every six-seven rounds, I walk into the kitchen to take a look. By the time the rice is done, I have done between 4,000-5,000 steps.

While I am working on my laptop, I try and get up every 45 minutes to one hour and do a few quick rounds, following the same route.

My next round of pacing/walking is around 4pm, when I take a 15-minute tea break. This time, I put a saucepan of water on low flame (our electric kettle conked out as soon as the lockdown began) and do my trips from the main door, down the hall-dining space, into the bedroom and back to the main door. I manage around 2,000 steps. In between, I pour the water into the kettle for the tea to brew.

For no particular reason, I sometimes go around the coffee table in the living room till I start feeling dizzy. Then I sit down for a moment.

The remaining steps are done in the evening. This is also when I sometimes tune into Spotify and basically listen to the same playlist over and over again. Alexis Ffrench’s Bluebird—it transports you to a park on a spring day. Glorious sunshine, green grass, a picnic hamper, just like they show in the movies; Sam Smith's I Am Not The Only One and Lay Me Down—because they appeal to the heart; Leonard Cohen’s What Happens To The Heart and You Want It Darker—you don't need a reason to listen to him.

Recently I have added Troye Sivan to the mix: Take Yourself Home and My My My!

Listen to whatever helps you keep down the noise in your head.

In this pacing up and down your house you will notice cobwebs, the table which hasn’t been dusted, the shawl on the dining chair which needs to be washed and packed away, the water marks on the floor from mopping, the gecko peeping out from behind that framed picture on the wall. But all this can wait. The gecko's going nowhere—besides pacing up and down the walls—and neither are you, for some time at least.

As for Antarctica, it is a state of mind—a world free of the coronavirus. The goal is to keep going. The fact that you will keep running into the same wall or door is a reminder of the times—to stay within. As Meryl Streep’s character says in Out Of Africa, “....the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road."

Handy tips: For easy accessibility, park your slip-on walking shoes near the main door (walk barefoot if you want); keep a bottle of water handy on the dining table; and don't forget to stir that rice, or keep an eye on the 100th banana bread that you are baking.

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