I continuously find myself in a cycle of conversations that are trying to predict and explore next week, next month and beyond that. The fundamental question we keep asking ourselves is:

What we can do right now, to support RLSS UK emerging from the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in?

Looking to the usual trends and plans from previous years that normally inform thinking, is out of the question; even yesterday I spoke to a club who told me that they aren’t planning on their usual shut down over the summer and August Bank Holidays. All we can do is best absorb what is going on around us, how governments are responding and play our role in working on our members behalf, to improve their situation.

The Health Foundation has been consistently gathering evidence on the health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19. These impacts are well documented. Whilst the first lockdown in warmer times, inspired many to get fit and active, there is an apparent gap in this third lockdown. Even in the first lockdown, not everyone was getting their running and walking shoes on and maintaining their routine. The inequalities between, those that would have a usual good standard of physical activity, and those that are mildly active or even inactive has increased, and unfortunately, this is usually directly linked to socio-economic status. Additionally, there are others that rely on access to services and environments such as the pool, for their physical activity and in some cases, rehabilitation. Interestingly, the Health Foundation is also reporting on the impact of home schooling on parents (most notably women), with the ONS reporting most recently, that 63 per cent of mothers, as opposed to fathers, took on the responsibility of home schooling.

We have all had to adapt our lives and this is impacting on the time available to be physically active.

Physical activity plays a key role in supporting positive mental health, the two are intrinsically linked and when not managed well, creates a downward spiral that needs intervention to address.

You may ask, what point I am trying to make and what does this have to do with RLSS UK?

We are a family - a water safety community, and I believe we all have a role in supporting each other to move into the light, and progress out of this difficult time. We know that lifeguards, lifesavers, and Trainers have endured long periods in furlough, and will have suffered the well-documented impact of COVID-19.

As lockdown starts to lift, the safety of the public and the progress of all of our water safety work relies on us all being at our best, and that means being mentally and physically sharp.

This the context behind the launch of our lifeguard and lifesaver fitness challenge #ReadyForAction.

We already have 312 members of our Strava Club that are clocking up the miles, contributing to their own welfare but also, to our goal of getting around the UK and Ireland. So far we have made amassed a huge amount of mileage and have already passed our target to complete the 15600km around the UK and Ireland. So far we have already racked up 39,008km Keep it going everyone!

Will you join us?

I have loved it. It has given me a real impetus to get physically active again and battle the insidious creep of the lockdown blues.

During the first lockdown, I had a severe case of lockdown and working from home fatigue: I made no time to get myself out and physically active and, even despite the nice weather, I barely let daylight touch my face. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t get into the same cycle this time. It wasn’t good for me, it was negatively impacting my mental health, my judgement and my performance.

The small changes I’ve made mean I have now found a way to mix exercise into my day and it is really paying off.

This is a personal challenge all about you, and it is so simple to join in.

You can run it, walk it, skip it, whatever suits you – it’s all about getting you #ReadyForAction.

Click here to find out more and to get involved. We are also encouraging people to raise £1 for every mile they do. This isn’t a condition of the challenge but it would certainly help us to help affiliated lifesaving clubs get back to educating the public. They too have had a tough time and need your help.

We have prepared some information to help you look after your mental health, for more information click here.

Lee Heard