5 easy exercises you can do at home during the time of COVID-19

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Struggling to exercise while working from home? Don't worry, here are five simple exercises you can do to stay fit and healthy.

Catch up on Insight's episode, How to Exercise, on SBS On Demand.

While COVID-19 continues to spread across Australia, it can be hard for many to stick to a normal exercise routine, especially with gyms closed and social distancing measures in place.

But exercise physiologist, Heidi Clarke, says it's important we continue to prioritise fitness and movement during these challenging times.

"If you stop exercising even for just two weeks we do see a reduction in your physical strength and aerobic activity capacity so we do encourage people to just do little bits if they find they don't have the time to do a normal workout," she said.

In the above video Heidi demonstrates five easy exercises that can be done at home, or in the local park, with minimal equipment.

"The five exercises allow us to work through range of movements that will incorporate trunk and hip stability, and upper limb and lower limb strength. For a short amount of time and with just a handful of exercises we can get a whole body workout that can be used inside or outside of the home with minimal equipment enabling us to continue our activity programs during self-isolation and physical distancing".

Heidi suggests doing the exercises every day, or every second day, if you were performing them with heavier weights.

While ideally you should spend up to 30 minutes a day doing exercises, Heidi says for those who are continuing with work, either in the work place or home, there is no reason these activities could not be split up or repeated throughout personal breaks to encourage movement bursts throughout the day to achieve an accumulation of 30 minutes.

Heidi explains that any form of movement is better than nothing and that it's never too late to start.

Getting creative

"Now more than ever we need to look after our mental and physical health. Being isolated, physically and socially, can have a detrimental affect on our mental health and can severely reduce our incidental activity," Heidi said.

"At present you may be unable to go about your exercise as normal but there are other ways that you can encourage activity in your social groups like video calling your friend or colleague at set times to encourage the completion of activities together.

"This proves that you do not have to be in the same room to exercise together and we are realising this more than ever at this time.

"Social distancing is not about cutting yourself off from your social contacts, we need that for our mental health. It is about physically distancing ourselves from others".

With some children already doing their schooling from home, and the possibility that this could become the reality for all students across all states in the coming days or weeks, Heidi wants us to remember that children still need up to an hour of moderate to high intensity activity a day.

Her suggestion is to incorporate activity as a family and suggests kicking the ball around at the park (keeping physical distancing), and having active games as part of home schooling.

"Activities such as crawling races, obstacle courses, co-ordination tasks, all the things that kids would do at school that they are not doing at home are as important to a child's learning and information retention as the learning tasks themselves," she said.

"Children are aware of what is happening in the world at the moment and they are sensitive to changes in routine.

"We know exercise produces a very similar physiological response as anxiety, yet the biggest difference is that exercise is fun and non-threating to the individual. Hence kids need to move to assist in reducing the anxiety and negative response of increased sedentary behaviour that physical distancing and home schooling can have on them."

For those who do not do regular exercise but want to start, Heidi suggests going slowly.

"Keep it simple, start small, climb the stairs at home or at the office, if you are still there, lift some cans of food, sit down and stand up from a chair at home."

"Moderate intensity activity is an immune booster so getting your heart rate up where your breathing rate is increased to a point where you can say a sentence or two is a good starting point.

"Remember, something is better than nothing and consistency is the key. You can make things harder as your body adapts."

For those who are unsure, or want more assistance, Heidi encourages them to seek help from a local exercise physiologist to arrange a video consultation.

Source SBS Insight