“When we’re out of lockdown, I’ll be ready!”

19th January 2021

Chelsea Pensioner Paul Whittick, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, has always been keen on keeping fit. In the light of lockdown, he says staying physically and mentally active is more important than ever. 

With the on-site gym temporarily closed, and Pensioners confined to the Royal Hospital, Paul Whittick has had to adapt his fitness routine in recent months. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made him more determined than ever to stay healthy:

“I do about 45 minutes exercise on the ward – I’ve set myself up a mini gym there – and I do an hour and a half walking. If it’s a nice day I’ll do sit-ups, press-ups and stretches on the way. I vary it from a fast pace one day to slow the next. That way I’m constantly doing something different, and not getting into a routine where it’s always the same.”

He’s also discovered that when he’s walking at the Royal Hospital the time flies:

“I used to walk around the Serpentine, run around Battersea Park – once you get out there you’ve got the birds and different things to see. Now I go to Ranelagh Gardens and the South Grounds. The strange part about it is that it goes so quickly. It’s just nice to be out seeing things and people.” 

Like many of us, Paul has been worried about gaining weight during lockdown. He managed to lose 2.5 stone, to avoid putting strain on his knees in advance of surgery, so doesn’t want to undo his hard work. “I don’t want to buy any more trousers either,” he jokes.

Exercising the mental muscles

It’s not all about physical fitness though. Paul believes that keeping busy, engaging with others and challenging yourself mentally is vital to wellbeing:

“I love brain things like sudoku and I’m learning a new word every day. I’m into photography and when I’m out walking, I’ll see something and take a photo of it. I keep in touch with my brothers and sisters every couple of days – it’s a nice way to spend an hour. I’ve got a social life as well – a lot of people can get quite insular. My other great passion is orchids. I’ve got about thirty.” 

Staying motivated 

The key thing, in Paul’s view, is not to get complacent, but to establish a routine and be clear on your motivation:


“Too many people are resigned to the habit of doing nothing – they don’t even go for walks. I make myself do things – it might be raining or hailing but if I remind myself of the reasons to do it, I feel better. Just keep giving yourself the reason to do it. I don’t want to become institutionalised into doing nothing. I get into the habit of doing something every day. I’m keeping fit so that when we are eventually out of lockdown, I can get back to all the normal everyday activities. I’m going to be ready for it.” 

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