Written by Accredited Exercise Physiologist Jace Kelly, from Core health Group
and Yvette Denning, Active Geelong project coordinator.
Being active at home can be a challenge, but with a bit of creativity and a little bit of help from Active Geelong we know you can find lots of ways to keep moving.
Why is being active important?
Apart from the usual health benefits of regular physical activity, such as improved cardiovascular health and increased bone strength, research has shown that exercise can support our immune system. This is important for keeping healthy during this pandemic and during the cold and flu season. We also know that exercise is proven way to maintain and improve our mental health, a critical part of our overall health that we need to manage well during this crisis.
Despite knowing the physical, mental and immune boosting health benefits of physical activity, it can be the first thing we ignore in times of crisis. As we are generally more sedentary at the moment, it is even more important to plan your day to include some type of physical activity each day to maintain your physical and mental health.
For Those Who Are Already Active
Making the decision to maintain your regular levels of physical activity is a great place to start for those who were active pre-COVID-19. But be kind on yourself, if you were training for a marathon, but you now have to home school your children or you need to self-isolate, then re-set your goals to suit.
- Runners, cyclists & walkers. Keep up your usual distances and time, especially if you used your feet or wheels to get to work. If you can’t go outdoors then consider renting or buying a treadmill or cycle trainer. For joggers and walkers using a resistance band around your waist, and attached to something solid, allows you to run on the spot but with resistance. Don’t forget apps like Strava or Map My Run are great motivational tools too.
- Gyms & personal training. Many gyms and personal trainers (PT) have online classes to service their members. Talk to your gym or PT to see what they have on offer before you cancel your membership. Get yourself some home equipment (from Kmart to Rebel sport to your local secondhand page there’s a range of places to buy or rent equipment) or look around at what you can use in your home. At the very least body weight exercises will maintain your health. Try online programs like 28 by Sam Wood or Tiff Hall or Google “Free online weight training” and see what suits you.
- Yoga and Pilates. Once again contact your provider to see what they have on offer for members. A quick You Tube search reveals a host of online classes you can access in your own time. We like Down Dog for yoga.
- Sport. Practice your skills at home. Check out Sport Australia to find out if your sporting body has home training regimes for example Athletics Australia is developing a Virtual Stadium. Apps are another way to gamify your practice – try Home Court for basketball.
If You’re New to Exercise
It is always good to check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program. During the pandemic you can call your medical clinic and find out the best way to talk with your doctor. Most clinics are offering telehealth services (over the phone or video call). So, speak to your GP and check that you are safe to begin.
Remember that general home exercise programs or general physical activity advice are not designed to treat injuries or medical conditions. If you do have an existing injury or condition, please speak to your doctor or book an appointment with an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist for personalised advice.
Keep personal safety in mind when you are being physically active, as you can cause injury from additional stress on our systems, joints and muscles. Never exercise or move through any form of pain. Movements in a general physical activity program should not cause pain so if you do feel pain stop, readjust or modify your movement until you can do it pain free.
How To Pace Yourself
- Always warm up and cool down. This simply means ease yourself into and out of the movements you plan to do. So, if you’re going for a walk, start and end at a slow pace. Or if you are doing exercises, then start and end with slow and controlled movements or stretches.
- Slow and steady. It is much better for your body to gradually build up your tolerance to physical activity. You can pace yourself using the time, distance or amount of physical activity you do. For example, do each exercise for 20 seconds and increase it each session by 10 seconds. You might start with one walk around the block and increase every week. Or you might count the amount of bench top push-ups you do starting with five and adding an extra one each time.
- How hard are you working? Thinking about how you feel when you are being physically active is a great way to make sure you are exercising at a level that will improve your health and fitness. Use a guide like “The Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)” and aim to work at a 4-6 level if you are new to exercise.
- Rest Up. Don’t forget to include rest breaks. This is time to “catch your breath” before starting the next exercise. Listen to your body and rest when you need to and be mindful of being having enough energy to do your other daily activities. Of course, over time, if you keep being physically active your ability to do more in your day will increase as you become fitter and stronger.
- Recover. Re-hydrate after physical activity by drinking water during and after your session. You may experience muscle soreness after starting a new exercise program which is normal. A good strategy is to alternate days of physical activity to allow your muscles and joints time to recover.
It’s a good idea to record the physical activity that you are doing to help maintain motivation and to help you pace yourself. Try using the Active Geelong Physical Activity recording Sheet.
Where to go for help
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to start being more physically active here are some good options to get your going:
- Walk. If you can’t leave your home then walk around your house, your backyard or even to the letter box and back. Otherwise get outside at least once a day for a walk. Victoria Walks is a great resource for all things walking.
- Move @ home. Follow the “how to pace yourself” guide above and get moving in your home by following our Active Geelong Home Exercise Circuit:
Active at Home Exercise Program – Level 1
Active at Home Exercise Program – Level 2
Alternatively, there are lots of reputable organisations that are releasing home exercise programs or ideas for free online for beginners to exercise:
- City of Greater Geelong Swim Sport & Leisure at Home – The live Well at Home videos are perfect for beginners.
- Musculoskeletal Australia – information and ideas particularly for those with musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis
- GMHBA – information and home exercise videos
- Exercise Right – home exercise videos
- Baker IDI – videos and fact sheets for people with chronic health conditions
- Fitness Australia – The Keep On Moving campaign has home exercises and resources to keep you moving.
- Make Healthy Normal – videos and resources for physical activity
- Deakin Moves – for students and staff at Deakin University