Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s tips on beating the blues with exercise

Posted by for Strength

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill knows a thing or two about staying motivated and performing when it’s cold and dark outside, so she’s the perfect person to chat with for some much needed inspiration. Pens at the ready!

It’s cold, dark and wet outside when we wake up at the moment and with many of us working from home, it’s never been harder to get up and get going. You might tell yourself that you’ll exercise after work instead… until the lure of the sofa/wine glass/bath comes calling. So, how can we stay motivated during the winter, especially while still in lockdown?

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill knows a thing or two about motivation. A gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics, three times world champion and British record-setter for heptathlon, Jess is an athlete whose career gave hope to girls and women around the country to believe that they could run faster, lift heavier and move better than ever before. Who better to get tips from? Scroll down to read her brilliant advice on moving to feel good, recovering well and committing to a regime. 

Her one key piece of advice? “Have a plan written down.” Just as well we’ve got three training plans ready for you to work through then!

Chase those endorphins

I go for a HIIT run when I want to feel good. I’ve always loved speed and interval training – intense bursts of speed and a jog recovery always gives me a real endorphin rush. 

In total contrast, on days when I really struggle to get moving, I am re-discovering yoga and all the benefits it has for my mind and body. It always leaves me feeling very calm.

Always have a plan

If you are aiming to exercise early, make sure that it’s in your diary and that you have your kit ready the night before. This will make getting out from under the duvet easier. 

I love a plan and usually plot out my week on a Sunday night, scheduling in my fitness sessions in the same way you would a meeting – they’re locked in. My Jennis community is loving my 30-day feel-good challenge for the same reason. It plots out different sessions each day – there’s HIIT, strength, running and yoga, so the planning is done for them.

When to exercise

I think this varies from person to person – it is quite personal. As an athlete, I trained in the morning and afternoon and now I plan my sessions around when my children are at school or nursery, or when my husband is around to watch them while I do my workout. 

If we workout together then we do it when the little ones are in bed. I think the key is making sure that you block out time to exercise in your diary. The benefits while in lockdown are massive for your mental health. 

Find the time

Exercise for me is such a core part of who I am that it’s never a chore. I have struggled, however, to find time to fit the sessions in. I have two young children who are being homeschooled, business commitments for my app and ongoing sponsor and TV work so I have to be super organised with my diary.

Find something you enjoy at home

Don’t wait – there are so many ways to exercise during lockdown and the benefits to your mental health are enormous.

Look for something that you think suits you and give it a try. If you try out lots of things, you will find one that makes you feel good and even if you’re stuck at home, there are great apps and videos online to get you dancing, circuit training, yoga flowing, mini trampolining… the list is pretty extensive.

Refuel properly

I am not a fan of eating too much before a workout so depending on when I am going to do my session, I eat light and leave a good hour before I train. Post-workout, I often make myself a smoothie with lots of fruit, green veg and yoghurt as a recovery drink.

As an athlete, we always avoided any supplements for fear of failing a doping test so I tend to stick to whole foods, making sure that my diet is balanced. I have a few added vitamins like Altrient-C and I make sure to keep hydrated too. Any snacks are fruit and nut-based.

Don’t skip the recovery

The key is to warm up and cool down after a session. If you make sure you have time for both, you definitely give yourself a head start in recovering from the session. Never feel bad about rest days – they are as important as the days you train. You need time for your body to recover and if you do, you will come back stronger.


  1. Have a plan written down to follow and tick off
  2. Make sure you have good kit that’s really comfortable and if you’re going outside, make sure your outfit is warm
  3. Be kind to yourself and never feel bad if you miss a session – just pick up where you left off
  4. Set realistic goals
  5. Make sure you celebrate your successes – this keeps you motivated

Jessica Ennis-Hill has created a new full-body ‘feel-good’ challenge, blending different workout styles across 30 days in her Jennis app, available to download on iPhone or Android for £14.99 a month.

Image: Getty

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Miranda Larbi

Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.

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