How exercise can continue to help as we move into COVID-normal
Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.
Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (8 December 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
Life as we know it has changed and being active is still more important than ever.
For lots of Victorians, this year has been hard, 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 even more activities to try now that restrictions have eased.
Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles .
If you’re continuing to work or study from home, or you're not currently working, you won’t be getting the incidental exercise you’d normally get commuting to and from an office or uni.
When you add the stress of organising yourself for the upcoming festive season, you’ll start to see why a stretch in your lounge room or backyard 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 not least given the current situation, regular physical activity is great for your immune system.
If you’re new to exercise and not sure where to start, 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.
- Join a local sports club: Grassroots sports clubs are back up and running now that restrictions on outdoor gatherings have lifted, so now is the perfect time to get back into some organised sport. It doesn’t have to be competitive, there are plenty of social sports programs available for people who want to get active without the pressure of intense competition.
- Go freestyle: If a structured routine is not your style, get creative and build your own workout – walking or running 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 either at your home or at a local outdoor area such as a park or oval.
- Go solo outside: Walking, cycling and running are great solo activities and now restrictions have eased, this is the ideal time to do them. We suggest going early in the morning or late in the day, to avoid the busy times in popular areas. It’s also a great time to try your hand at bushwalking, with lots of great tracks and trails to explore in Victoria. Remember you need to carry a mask with you so you can wear it if you can’t physically distance from other people. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
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.
For more VicHealth tips on getting active and outdoors this summer, check out:
- The key to staying healthy outdoors this summer
- What is nature bathing and how does it benefit our health?
- Taking healthy habits from lockdown into ‘COVID normal’