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Staying active at home during COVID-19
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Staying active at home during COVID-19

Physical activity and COVID-19 FAQ

Why is physical activity good for heart health? 

Physical activity plays an important role in improving your heart health. 

Meeting Australia’s physical activity guidelines can: 

  • reduce heart disease risk by as much as 35%  
  • reduce high blood pressure, help manage blood cholesterol and help you maintain a healthy weight 
  • reduce risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and a number of cancers 

Is physical activity good for my mental health?  

  • For some people, spending more time at home or alone during COVID-19 could lead to feelings of stress or isolation  
  • Participating in physical activity is good for mental and social health, and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety 
  • When ‘physical distancing’ is a requirement, it’s important to remember the benefit of connecting with friends, family and colleagues, to ask for help and offer help to others 

How is physical activity relevant to COVID-19? 

  • While there is no existing research on exercise and people with COVID-19, we know that moderate physical activity, like walking, which uses major muscle groups, can improve the way your immune system works and reduce inflammation.  
  • Walking and other moderate physical activity can help to fight the impacts of infection and maintain quality of life 

How much physical activity do I need to do for my health? 

  • Any physical activity is better than none 
  • Try to move in as many ways as you can through the day.  
  • Build up to over 30 minutes every day  
  • How do you know if you are walking quickly enough to benefit your health? If your breath comes out as a puff, but you can still have a conversation, you are walking at a pace that will boost your heart health 

How do we stay active when we are in self-isolation, in quarantine or working from home?  

The Coronavirus is disrupting our chances to be active. We can still find ways to move more and sit less. 

Moving about

  • Catch up on gardening 
  • Use YouTube to find you’re a favourite home workout. Remember to choose one that suits your fitness level 
  • Declutter your home and give unneeded items to charity 
  • Paint a room or restore a tired piece of furniture 
  • Get the rusty bike/s from the shed, restore them  and go for a ride 
  • Brush up on your golf putting skills and score your own hole in one 
  • Play your favourite music and turn your living room into a dance floor  
  • If you have an activity tracker, keep track of your steps though your day. Aim to take 10,000 a day, and consider a challenge between your friends and family 

Building strength

Muscle strengthening exercises are also important for good health. We recommend you do these activities at least 2 days each week.

  • Water bottle weight workout - Fill a water bottle, milk carton or similar with water and do some light lifting  
  • Use a wall or chair to do some resistance exercises  
  • Create your own fitness routine by mixing yoga, step ups, push-ups, sit-ups, weight lifting, lunges, calf raises and half squats 

Sitting less

  • Avoid sitting for long periods. Break up your day by moving around the house  
  • Use time on the phone to stand or walk around the house as you talk  
  • Set timers/reminders to get up and move  
  • Do some exercises in the TV ad breaks  

How do I keep the kids and my family moving?  

Children aged 5 to17 need a minimum of one hour a day of moderate physical activity. Just remember for them, more is better. Also limit their sedentary recreational screen time to no more than two hours per day. 

Here are some tips to keep children and teenagers moving: 

  • Encourage any activity that makes kids ‘huff and puff’. Remember to make it fun, that’s always a bonus!  
  • Take it outside by playing garden games, such as catch, keep-it-off, handball 
  • Try something new. Consider hoola hoops, juggling or jumping rope  
  • Dust off games like Twister or Wii Sports 
  • Throw balls at targets including  cans or plastic bottles   
  • Pop on your kids’ favourite music and see how many cool (or hilarious) dance moves you can come up with 
  • Involve your pets in your games and encourage the kids to practice some dog or cat grooming 
  • Jump rope to build stronger muscles and bones (go to the Jump Rope for Heart website to learn some skills
  • Get adventurous and climb some trees or swing on monkey bars 
  • Build a cubby house using materials from around the house and backyard 
  • Get the kids to help with the gardening or housework 

Get heart health information and support 

Get free, personalised information and support from the Heart Foundation Helpline. Translation and interpreter service is available.  

Call 13 11 12 or email health@heartfoundation.org.au 

For more information on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health website.  

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