The Utterly Inessential Shopping From Home List: How all ages and animals can exercise, have fun and find fame at home

As regulations become stricter to protect our NHS from being overwhelmed, people are wondering how to stay fit and healthy at home. Luckily, some lovely people have already found solutions.

The situation we’re in is completed unprecedented in recent times, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the entire world was still running around like a headless chicken, trying to plan for lockdown. Thankfully, this is not the case.

It’s truly heartwarming to see the amount of businesses which have given aid to the NHS, the staggering influx of volunteers in hospitals and local communities and the almost-universal good humour us Brits have maintained, in the form of funny videos and the odd appropriate meme.

Many people are once again living in close-quarters with family members who they haven’t had to coexist with for decades. Some are back with their brothers, who they haven’t had to share a kitchen with for 13 years. Some people are having to hide their wine and Wheetos. Some people are continuously losing at board games for no logical reason.

I am some people. And I’m sure you are, too.

Family can wind you up in a way that not even the messiest housemate (I miss you, Robyn) can. The universal best solution in these tricky times it to go do half an hour of exercise and come back to it all with a fresh perspective. At this rate, I’ll have my dream body way before my gym reopens.

For the tricky teen / twenty something

Running Bear HEATON COLLECTION leggings

I’ll be the first to admit that I work out far better in new athletic wear. Now, I’m not recommending rampant consumerism; if you have workout clothes that do the job, stick with them. If, however, you use your commute / PE lessons for exercise and you’re now at a bit of a loss, some new leggings and an online yoga class may be just the ticket to get you active again. I like Madeleine Shaw’s Youtube channel – she has a massive backlog of easy-to-follow yoga videos.

For leggings, try Running Bear, a fabulous British brand with some really cool clothing. They’ve moved online because of the virus, but they’re still around to help you pick the best trainers and kit over social media. Their recent collaboration with artist William Heaton has brought about some great kit. 

Heaton Artist print leggings, £35 for kids, £49 for adults, Running Bear,

For the busy mum


Between volunteering, working on the local council and readjusting to having her chickens home, my mother is in desperate need for a stress outlet.

Staefit is a fantastic brand for women – its clothes are designed specifically with female exercise issues in mind – no chaffing, no irritating wires and fast moisture absorption. This online workout video is half an hour of straight energy, do it a few times a week and you’ll definitely see the physical and mental benefits.

Staefit front fastening workout top with built-in bra, £69.99 (matching leggings £49.99), Staefit,

For the eager sportsperson

My older brother came back from London with a whole room of workout gear, including resistance bands and skipping ropes. A skipping rope is a fantastic, low cost way to get cardio wherever you are, in any size space, and Decathlon sell them online from £1.99. There are lots of jump rope exercise videos online, but even ten minutes of interval skipping will improve your health and general mood.

Resistance bands are another great way to add more to your workout, and Decathlon sell them from £3.99, or £4.99 for a set of 3. Although this video is set in the wild outdoors at Toe Head in West Cork, you’ll see that there’s only 6 moves in 12 minutes, using minimal space.

Decathlon skipping ropes, from £1.99,

Decathlon resistance bands, from £3.99,

For the kids

In case you hadn’t heard, fitness icon Joe Wicks is the nation’s PE teacher. Joe has been producing free online workouts for years, but never has he stepped up (pun intended) more than this week, where he’s taken over our devices for half an hour every morning at 9am to bring workout videos to children of all ages, in lieu of PE lessons at school.

Find Joe’s livesteam every weekday at 9am on his youtube channel. Click here to see his latest videos.

For the pampered pooch

Rosie the labrador, walking along the Thames in Berkshire.

Rosie the labrador, walking along the Thames in Berkshire.

Under government restrictions, you’re allowed to leave the house, once a day, for exercise. Dog owners can, and should, take their dogs with them. If you’re in a household with more than one adult, the Kennel Club’s advice suggests that the adults go at separate times in order that the dog can enjoy more than one bout of exercise.

Many of our readers own working dogs, or dogs who need more exercise than one walk a day, and this is a good way of ensuring that your dog gets all the exercise they need. If there’s only one of you, throwing a ball in the garden or playing some tug-o-war inside is also a good way of getting your dog up and active.

Read Country Life’s guide to the outdoors and exercising animals under current restrictions here

For the talented family member

I’ll save your speculation – it’s not me.

If you’ve always thought a friend or family member could make the big time, this might be their chance. Celebrity vocal coach Mark De-Lisser is trying to capture voices from singers (or would be singers) nationwide virtually, to create an album (Sing and Stay Connected) marking this challenging time. If you think you (or someone else) has what it takes, or you just want to have some fun, look at the form below.

Click here for Mark’s Form

Just for fun

Dancing burns calories and smiling has proven health benefits. Learning a dance routine is a great way to have fun and stay fit – I’d recommend starting with High School Musical or the Backstreet Boys.

Remember, we’re all in this together. Stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.

Stay safe everyone, our thoughts are with you and your families.