How exercise can help during coronavirus

Posted: 4th Aug

For some Victorians, this second coronavirus lockdown has been harder than the first, and you aren’t alone if exercise has dropped off your priority list.

But we know that doing some form of exercise is an easy and free way to boost both your mental and physical health, and there are still new activities you can try at home.

If you’ve returned to working or studying from home, or you're not currently working, you’re won’t be getting the incidental exercise you normally get by commuting to and from an office or uni.

And if you’re the kind of person who likes to get active in a group, your usual pursuits like gym classes and team sports have once again had to pause or move online.

When you add the above to higher-than-usual anxiety levels, you’ll start to see why a stretch in your lounge room could really help right now!

Physical activity helps our body and mind in many ways, but here are a few of the key ones:

  • Exercise releases chemicals in your brain, like serotonin and endorphins, which are great for your mood
  • It can also lead to better sleep and give you more energy
  • Physical movements can help ease tightness in your shoulders and neck, which often come with stress and anxiety
  • It also makes you feel like you achieved something
  • Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of serious health issues, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke
  • And lastly, but definitely not least given the current situation, regular physical activity is great for your immune system.

If you’re new to exercise, or feeling a little lost because your normal way of staying fit isn’t possible right now, here are some ideas to get you moving:

  • Take your workout online: On YouTube there are endless free exercise videos to try, regardless of your fitness level or the size of your living room. From yoga and strength workouts to Pilates, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and more. Our This Girl Can – Victoria Get Active @ Home’ page has lots of videos you can try, especially if you are sick of seeing ‘FITSPO’ workouts and you want something that focuses on feeling good.
  • Find a qualified instructor to help you through it: Personal trainers, dance instructors and other qualified fitness professionals are getting savvy and moving their classes online. So, you can join a class virtually, and get the social connection benefits of exercise too.
  • Go freestyle: If a structured routine is not your style, get creative and build your own workout – instead of weights use household items like filled water bottles and cans or jars of food (if you can find some!), walk or run on the spot for 30 second intervals, do some star jumps, planks, sit ups, push ups, or even burpees. Anything to get your heart rate up a little.
  • Go solo outside if you can (just remember to follow the rules on wearing a mask): Walking, cycling and running are great solo activities and ok to do once a day if you’re feeling well and haven’t been asked to self-isolate. We suggest going early in the morning or late in the day, and avoiding streets and parks with high foot traffic, to minimise your risk. You must stay within 5kms of your home and limit your time outdoors to a maximum of one hour. Remember to pack some hand sanitiser containing at least 60 per cent alcohol and stay at least 1.5 metres away from to other people. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you return indoors.

A word of advice before you start: If you’re new to exercise, start small – try maybe 10 minutes of yoga or walking a day, then gradually build up.

Even 10 minutes of movement a day can help your body and mind feel better. Encourage your loved ones, who you’re no doubt spending a lot of time with right now, to take a moment to move their bodies too. 

And please, if you’re not feeling well, stay home and get tested for coronavirus. It’s vital that we prioritise the health and safety of ourselves, family, friends and the community.

Source: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/be-healthy/exercise-covid-19