Keep on moving: how to stay active during a pandemic

This article is adapted from a piece previously published on Beyond Blue’s Heads Up website.

Exercise is great for physical health but can also have a positive effect on wellbeing.

Regular physical activity is a good way to help prevent or manage mild anxiety and depression. Keeping active can help you stay physically fit and mentally healthy, which is particularly important as people deal with the effects of COVID-19. Research shows that keeping active can:
  • help lift mood
  • help improve sleeping patterns
  • increase energy levels
  • help block negative thoughts and/or distract people from daily worries
The current recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.1 While this is slightly more complicated than usual with the closure of gyms and sporting clubs, it is still vital that people are exercising regularly in whatever ways they can.

Tips to get started

Start simple

Build your confidence with basic activities such as walking, gardening or small household tasks.

Do what is enjoyable

Given the current climate, people may lose interest and pleasure in doing things they once enjoyed. Plan activities that are enjoyable, interesting, relaxing or satisfying where possible.

Include other people

Staying connected with friends and family is tricky at the moment but you can still do so virtually, which helps increase wellbeing and confidence.

Make a plan

Planning a routine can help people become more active – make sure some form of exercise is included each day. Try to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but be flexible.

Examples of activities to include in your routine

Keep fit

  • Go for a walk
  • Do some gardening

Pamper yourself

  • Have a bubble bath
  • Read a book

Socialise

  • Phone a friend for a chat
  • Play with your pet

Entertain yourself

  • Write a letter/email
  • Do a crossword/Sudoku

Around the house

  • Cook something new
  • Listen to music
1. Pate RR, Prat M, Blair SN et al. (1995) Physical activity and public health. A recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 273(5):402–7.

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