Ali Jawad Parathlete

Keeping fit with Paralympian Ali Jawad

Ali was preparing for Tokyo 2020 when coronavirus disrupted not only his training but also the Paralympic Games themselves. He spoke to us about how he's continuing his training and what you can do to maintain fitness in isolation.

How is isolation going?

We are in unprecedented times with many unpredictable challenges ahead as social isolation is rightly implemented to protect the public and our brave NHS workers (the real heroes). As I am on immunosuppressants for Crohn's, I am used to social isolation for long periods to protect my health and optimally manage my Crohn's symptoms. As a full-time athlete trying to balance such a disease whilst competing at world class level it is a basic necessity that I maintain some fitness throughout this period and make sure I'm looking after my body and mind so I can come out of lockdown in the best place to move forward. I am fortunate enough to have converted my living room into a gym and maintain optimal fitness. However, I am very aware that not many people are as lucky as me and I hope my advice can be helpful to you, no matter your situation.

Why is fitness such a priority, with everything else going on?

Fitness and staying active is so important for people living with Crohn's or Colitis. Even though it is different for everyone, exercise is fundamental as stress levels can trigger symptoms and during such erratic and worrying times as these, reducing stress should be one of the priorities. Another benefit of exercise is countering low mood and increasing confidence within yourself. This is so important as exercise not only gives you an outlet for energy but also gives you a sense of achievement while controlling your symptoms.

Don't be afraid of trying new things at home that are creative and fun.

What are the best ways to maintain activity levels throughout isolation?

My number one advice is to have the most adaptable and flexible plan possible as exercise will be different during isolation. Having this approach means that you're more likely to adhere to it. For example, circuit body weight workouts, or following the governments guidelines of exercising once a day outside. There are many innovative ways you can train at home. I've seen a lot on social media with people using bands, big water bottles, and even lifting furniture to increase the intensity of their workouts! Let's get creative!

How does exercise fit into a day at home?

From my experience, starting your day with a workout is a great way to increase your mood, underscores productivity, and gets it out of the way so you're ready to attack your day positively. However, I am conscious that many people living with Crohn's or Colitis have chronic fatigue and really struggle in the mornings, so make sure you wait until you're ready and only do what you can manage. This leads me to what happens during a flare up during this time. We know that the NHS is being stretched to unparalleled levels and therefore it is important that we try make sure we are as healthy as possible. Therefore, if you're having symptoms please listen to your body, rest from exercise, and try reducing stress levels. Remember exercising in a flare is not optimal and always seek medical advice in such situations.

Do not feel bad for self-care and looking after yourself. Your health is your priority.

How do we stay connected?

Please share your workout videos with Crohn's & Colitis UK and tag me in them! I'd love to see how everyone is staying active!

Let's make sure we are our own heroes during this time.

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We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.

Our helpline team can help by:

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