Expert advice on ways to keep moving amidst isolation restrictions

Despite these being unprecedented times, we should keep up exercise routines albeit solo says Associate Professor Kevin Netto, a human movement and sports science researcher at Curtin University.

“It’s really, really, really important that we maintain our health in these challenging times,” he says.

“I’m not going to preach to the converted, but we all know the… physical, psychological and social benefits of exercise.”

However, while Associate Professor Netto warns that social distancing can quash the motivation to exercise in an environment where isolation is the new normal, he says nurses, midwives and carers are uniquely placed as frontline workers to find benefits from solo exercise activities.

“They’re an essential workforce, so it might be that they do need some time out, [that] they need to exercise by themselves.”

So while gyms sessions and classes remain either closed, cancelled or, for those participating in outdoor boot camps and PT sessions, strictly regulated, Associate Professor Netto says there are still many options available, pointing to digitally enabled cycling trainers as an example where group activities are possible online.

“Maybe it’s time to dust off the wind trainer… The whole cycling community has gone to an online, ‘let’s do virtual ride together’, sort of thing… there’s online racing happening right now,” he says.

But while some people have access to such equipment like cycling trainers or running treadmills, and others may own things like hand weights and dumbbells, large numbers of people are likely to be caught out without gear due to the rapidly unfolding nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those people, Associate Professor Netto says there are an increasing number of apps and videos available that will allow people to remain active.

“There are lots and lots of instructional videos coming online now where you can do exercise just with bodyweight,” he explains.

“So online yoga classes, online stretching and relaxation classes, and even online bodyweight, like high intensity, classes… There’s a plethora.”

He also made mention of telehealth gym classes, activities emphasising eccentric exercises and shortened high intensity sessions as things that will become more common place because of the coronavirus-fuelled social restrictions. The latter is particularly pertinent in the UK as a result of that country’s lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, for those who do require a social element to make their exercise worthwhile, there is a simple solution, which, in addition to the aforementioned ideas, helps make the best of a difficult situation, Associate Professor Netto says.

“If you have exercise with a buddy, and that is your motivation, then think of a video conferencing method of keeping that motivation going.

“Exercise with them: Put them on the screen, put them on your computer, your tablet, your phone, and say, ‘Let’s exercise together.’

“That’s a real motivating factor.”

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