Seven reasons to keep up exercise during self isolation

Living Well | Sarah Marinos | Posted on 03 April 2020

Self isolation isn't the time to start skipping your gym session. Here's why.

Rolling restrictions are in place to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus. More people are working and studying from home and restricting their contact with the outside world, but isolating at home shouldn't mean endless hours on the couch binge-watching Netflix. (Plus: Victoria's coronavirus rules, explained.)

“These kinds of restrictions are critically important to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but they can also make it tough for people to engage in the typical kinds of physical activity they enjoy, the exercise that keeps them moving as part of their daily routine,” says Tom.

“That means we must prioritise opportunities for physical activity and promote awareness around how to do this safely at home. That way, we can ensure we are all maintaining the benefits of an active lifestyle as much as we can at this challenging time.”

Home office with laptop stand on desk

Seven reasons to keep up exercise in isolation



1. To reduce stress

“Research tells us that regular physical activity helps to reduce stress. Exercise stimulates the ‘feel good’ hormones which can improve your mood and help protect your mental health. It also helps improve sleep, which is important when it comes to maintaining healthy daily routines,” says Dr Grant Blashki, Beyond Blue’s lead clinical adviser. (More: How to keep calm and carry on in the time of coronavirus.)

2. To keep up a daily routine

“These are really uncertain times and it’s completely understandable if people are feeling on edge. Try your best to keep things in perspective – this is a very serious public health situation but it is temporary,” adds Grant. Keep up your daily routine – including regular exercise. Draw up a calendar for the day and week so you have a daily structure. 

If you can’t access your usual sport and exercise venues, search YouTube for indoor and outdoor exercise videos. Exercise apps will also help motivate you and record your progress. 

Use technology to link up with fitness professionals. “This can be a great replacement for classes or gym sessions. They can help with tailored exercise and physiotherapy programs,” says Michael Reynolds, spokesperson for the Australian Physiotherapy Association. 

3. To get you out of the house and into the fresh air 

“If possible, go for a beautiful walk and run amongst nature. If you have a dog, they will always appreciate the extra exercise,” says Grant. 

4. To loosen up your body

Too many hours indoors and without exercising can leave us feeling stiffer, less mobile and with less energy. “Adults should aim for at least 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or gardening. Kids should double this,” says Michael. 

5. To boost your immunity

A new study by researchers at the University of Bath, published this month in international journal Exercise Immunology Review has found that keeping up regular, daily exercise at a time when much of the world is going into isolation will play an important role in helping to maintain a healthy immune system.

6. To give you a screen break

Keep fit at home by tackling cleaning jobs you’ve put off for ages. Gardening keeps you flexible, strong and gives you a sense of accomplishment when you finish mowing the lawn or weeding a garden bed. Clear gutters of moss, leaves and twigs and fix any leaks. Steam couches and carpets and clean garden equipment and furniture ready to be packed away for winter. 

7. To give yourself a little 'me' time

“During this time when it’s easy to spiral into worry, having some strategies to give your mind a break is really important,” says Grant. “Mindfulness and exercise can help us keep our minds anchored in the present and manage the avalanche of worries during this challenging period.” 

Need a little extra motivation?

The Baker Institute has developed easy-to-follow exercise plans for healthy adults, people aged 65-plus, people living with heart disease, people living with diabetes and people living with cancer. The plans can be done at home, with no special equipment, and take 30 minutes to complete. Plus, here are 27 ways to work out at home.