Health & Fitness: Ways to keep moving while social distancing

GO BUSH: Glenrock State Conservation Area is one place Newcastle residents can exercise while still social distancing. Picture: Bart Louis
GO BUSH: Glenrock State Conservation Area is one place Newcastle residents can exercise while still social distancing. Picture: Bart Louis

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the postponement of many fitness events, local sport has been put on hold and parkrun is off indefinitely.

Some experts say that now more than ever it is important to keep active.

Being active is important to your physical and mental health and no doubt people are going to be feeling the strain, if not already, in the months ahead.

Dave "Robbo" Robertson, the man who brought parkrun to the Hunter region, sees it as the perfect time to "reset" and maybe find new ways and places to run, or walk.

"From a health point of view, the advice is obviously do all of the right things in terms of non contact and social distancing, but still getting out, getting some fresh air in your lungs and exposure to sunshine," he said.

"It's a great opportunity to go and run in some places in our region that you may not have before.

"It's that idea of, OK, I can't do my normal routine of running perhaps but how about I go and try something different."

Some places he suggested where social distancing should not be a problem include hitting the trails in Glenrock State Conservation Area, Hunter Wetlands National Park at Hexham, Heaton Lookout, Awaba State Forest and Green Point Reserve.

Maybe it will be as simple as doing a lap around your block.

Narelle Eather, researcher in the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at University of Newcastle, reiterated the importance of exercise for well-being and said this could be the perfect time to spend more time with family.

"I think the main message is if you're feeling OK then there's no reason why you can't be exercising," she said.

"With the social distancing, for example, you can get out in the fresh air going for walks, bush walks, parks.

"I think it's a good opportunity to change what we do and get outside more.

"It's really important that people do continue to be active rather than stay in the house and be on social media and tablets and TVs more."

ADAPT: You do not need much equipment to work out at home and in limited space. Use weights for a range of exercises if you have them or stick to bodyweight.

ADAPT: You do not need much equipment to work out at home and in limited space. Use weights for a range of exercises if you have them or stick to bodyweight.

This might be finding your own space at the park for exercise or doing it with the kids in the backyard.

Look for inspiration online with a variety of health and fitness applications available.

"There are heaps of different apps that you can have on your devices that give you ideas for exercising in the house or in the backyard or down the park that don't need much equipment," Ms Eather said.

"For example, I use the Nike Training App. It's free, it caters for levels, it caters for workouts from five minutes up to 45 minutes.

"There's some with equipment, some with no equipment. Some are yoga type exercises where you're stretching, or there are workouts for bodyweight exercises or aerobic exercises.

"I think it's a really good opportunity to do things you normally wouldn't do, like get out on the bike or out in the fresh air, even if it's on your own, and do different exercises that really get your head out of the house and off the lounge."

The Heart Foundation (heartfoundation.org.au) have put out a guide for ideas to keep active while self-isolating, emphasising physical inactivity is a key risk factor for heart disease.

Some of the Heart Foundation's suggestions to stay active include:

  • Catch up on gardening.
  • If you're lucky enough to have an exercise bike or swimming pool, use them!
  • Develop your own short exercise routine and do it several times a day (adding up to at least 30 minutes).
  • Use YouTube to find a home workout that best suits your fitness needs.

If you are stuck indoors, or now working from home, break up your day with short workouts. It could be walking around the block a couple or times or perhaps doing three 10-minute sessions, such as:

  • squats, push-ups, lunges, rows.
  • skipping, running on the spot, burpees.
  • core work.