Staying active during social distancing

Monday, 6 April 2020

As more and more people find themselves in quarantine, self-isolation, or just generally socially distancing themselves, maintaining physical activity may become difficult over time. Now, more than ever, we need to do our best to keep our physical activity levels high. However it’s just as, if not more, important to practise good hygiene and stay safe. So that then begs the question – can you go out to exercise? Is it safe for you to go for your morning walk? Is it okay to take your dog for a walk?

Before we answer those questions, it’s important to understand why it is important to maintain your physical activity. At the forefront, exercise is an effective way to manage blood glucose levels. But beyond looking after your diabetes, exercise is a great way to boost your mood, reduce boredom, and provide a natural boost to your immune system. For these reasons, we need to finely balance our exercise and staying safe.

So, what exactly can we do?

Exercising at home is the best way to maintain your physical activity levels while making sure you’re staying safe. Use resistance bands or free weights if you have any on hand, if not, using household objects is a great way to keep your muscles active and your level of strength high. Do you have a set of stairs at home? Try and climb them twice during the ad break of your favourite show. Set a challenge, time yourself and beat your best time! Use a bag and fill it with as many items as you can for some makeshift weights. Be as creative as you like to keep your exercise varied and your motivation high.

What about exercising outside?

Practising social distancing doesn’t mean you need to stay locked indoors. However, if you are feeling unwell, or your usual walking route is very busy, then perhaps reconsider your exercise, or choose a different area that will keep your risk as low as possible. Yes it’s fine to take the dog for a walk but remember to keep your distance from others and practise good hygiene.

Outdoor exercise is a great way to maintain good mental health, with studies suggesting that exercising outdoors has a boosted hormone response in comparison to exercising indoors. This could serve as a great way to simultaneously manage your mental health as well as your physical health.

Can I still go to the gym?

Simply put, it’s not worth the risk. Gyms have been closed across the country and for good reason – multiple people using the same equipment or people not using towels or cleaning the equipment properly are all actions that may put you at risk, that you have no control over. You might be better off performing some body weight exercises at home or in the park; or if you have your own personal equipment, then just make sure to keep it as clean as possible.

Exercise and Sports Science Australia have released a statement urging Australian’s to maintain a healthy level of physical activity, and are working closely with the Government in making sure that it’s safe for you to get your exercise done. If you have any concerns about completing exercise in the current circumstances, you’re not quite sure where to start, or if you have any other questions, please feel free to give us a call on our Helpline (1300 342 238) to speak to one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists.

 

Jonathon Fermanis, Accredited Exercise Physiologist

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