Winter resilience, local lockdowns and wildlife ponds

Dr William Bird William Bird

In his Beat the Bug blog this week, Dr William Bird, the founder of the Beat the Street game discusses preparing for winter and local lockdowns while our Intelligent Health Content Officer Emily Lowson writes about the wellbeing benefits of gardening and creating a wildlife pond.

Get a winter body!

Australia is sadly reporting that there have been a number of new Covid-19 infections this week. As it’s winter for our friends down under, does that mean that we could experience a second spike in the UK when the weather cools down?

Winter body

Intelligent Health CEO Dr William Bird has been working with the Independent Sage group (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) to discuss the chances of another peak that could coincide with flu season, and is drawing up some guidelines to help people prepare themselves for the challenges that winter will bring.

You can start preparing now by taking regular exercise and helping your immune system. As you know, 20 minutes a day of brisk walking gets those natural killer cells ready to fight any virus that enters your body.

We’ll be sharing more of his recommendations with Beat the Bug readers in the coming weeks.

Local lockdowns

Like many, we’ve been saddened about the news that Leicester has been placed into local lockdown to try to contain an outbreak of Covid-19.

Local lockdowns

In the city itself, there have been 3,694 total cases with a rate of 1,115.9 per 100,000. This has prompted Health Secretary Matt Hancock to reintroduce lockdown restrictions meaning that non-essential shops are closed, schools are closed (except for children of key workers and vulnerable families) and people have been asked to stay at home until 18th July, at the earliest.

There has been much discussion as to why Leicester, in particular, is the first city to experience a local lockdown. One theory is that workers in some garment factories have been exposed to Covid-19 and another is as a culturally-diverse city, there are areas where there is tightly-packed multi-generational housing.

Whatever, the reason, it’s likely that there will be other areas of the UK who will also follow suit, and due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, this could happen very quickly. Please continue to be cautious and don’t forget to stay active. In Leicester, you can continue to exercise for one hour a day, and if you’re confined to the home, then have a look at ways of staying active within your home, such as climbing the stairs if you have them, to home workouts, such as PE with Joe .

Wildlife pond adventures

I’ve been talking to my Intelligent Health colleagues about what they’ve been doing to stay well and active at this time. Our content officer Emily Lowson has been busy in her spare time building a wildlife pond. She describes how she did it and the positive impact on her mental health.

Wildlife pond

At the beginning of lockdown, thanks to the removal of two large trees and the effects of winter, our garden was nothing more than a long strip of bare earth. At a time when it felt that the whole world had swung off balance, I needed a simple project to focus on, to bring order and sanity to those unprecedented days. And so, our wildlife pond came into being.

Hauling my daughter’s old plastic sandpit from the back of the shed, we dug a hole and sunk it in to the ground. In lockdown, a new sense of community sprang up on our street, and over the next few days, daily walks had a purpose: to collect handfuls of pond-weed from neighbours I’d never previously met. With Christmas-morning magic, muddy bags containing reeds and flag iris roots were left on our doorstep.

And gradually, the pond quite literally came to life. Now, damsel flies and dragonflies visit in abundance. Birds, wasps and bees rest on plants for a drink. The bottom of the pond is alive with the wiggling and scurrying of myriad invertebrates. And the icing on the cake? A tiny baby newt, glimpsed just twice, feasting on mosquito larvae.

Before and after. Emily's lockdown pond in April 2020, and today:

Photos of the pond before and after

You can create your own wildlife pond in something as simple as an old washing up bowl. Read the Royal Horticultural Society’s guide.