Health Professionals Keeping Active During COVID 19

Maree O’Connor – Physiotherapist

Many of us are working from home or our normal work routine has significantly changed. This can come with financial and emotional stress. It perhaps also is an opportunity to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) whilst there is this extra time. It’s important not to forget about looking after ourselves and that we find ways to keep physically active during this time, as exercise is an excellent way to help keep both your body and mind in shape.

We educate our clients about the benefits of physical activity. These benefits are just as important for us as it is for them. As a reminder exercise releases endorphins in our body, which work to reduce stress and make us feel good.

Other benefits of physical activity include:

  • Prevent unhealthy weight gain and assist with weight loss.
  • Build strong muscles and bones.
  • Help to prevent and manage mental health challenges.
  • Help to develop and maintain overall physical and mental wellbeing.

The key thing to remember is to keep moving. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Anything is better than nothing!


Outdoor exercise can still be enjoyed by carrying out activities such as walking the dog, going for a run, or riding a bike. Even as we hit winter, and perhaps the weather may be cold and rainy, just dress appropriately and get out there. You will feel better when you have.

If you are indoors and perhaps using a stationary bike or treadmill perhaps you can combine this with your CPD. Watch a webinar or online video whilst cycling or walking. It’s a very effective use of your time.


It is good to build strong routines that help keep a sense of normalcy. You may find if you are new to exercise, in whatever form, this is an opportunity to establish a routine that will then continue as our lives go back to some sort of normal.

  • Keep connected – do you have a regular walking or exercise partner, why not book a time to exercise online together or keep up the walks with the social distancing of 1.5 metres.
  • Have a routine and stick to a schedule – If you are working from home get up and go to bed at the same time each day, build in a lunch break and switch off and put away work at the end of the day.
  • Build physical activity into your day – schedule a walk or run into your day and put it in your calendar. Treat it like any other meeting and stick to it.
  • Move throughout the day – set an alarm each hour as a reminder to get up and move, do a dance, have a stretch, hang the washing out.

Resources to help you keep active

To track your gains with your exercise routine it can be as simple as wearing a pedometer on your belt, logging your steps and setting goals to increase your activity.

Wearing a pedometer is an effective motivator to encourage you to get up and get active.

Track the success of your walking by wearing a pedometer from Lymphactive.

There are also plenty of online free resources out there to help keep you active in a variety of ways. One app that I have found useful is Strava. This was introduced to me via my daughter as they are using it for school as a way of encouraging exercise, staying connected, and as a group of students supporting each other. The basic version is free and that’s all I need. Strava is Swedish for “strive,” which we are all trying to do at the moment in a variety of ways. It may be striving to survive financially, striving to survive homeschooling, etc but we should also be striving to stay active.

Strava depends on GPS, in mobile phones, or other GPS-enabled devices, to record supported activities that can be shared among user’s followers. It is really easy to use. Each activity, depending on which activity selected, shows users’ activity results, including route summary in map view form, elevation (net and unidirectional), speed (average, min/max), timing (total and moving time), power (with optional accessory) and heart rate (with optional accessory). Each activity post has “Kudos”, enabling followers to like followed activity and leave comments.

I am no athlete but I have friends and family included as followers and we motivate each other. You can even attach photos to each activity. There is the option to sign up for challenges that can be as easy or as hard as you want.

You may even help someone else with some of the challenges. A recent challenge I completed is Allbirds Dasher 5km. For every 5 km run by the community, Allbirds will donate $1 to World Central Kitchen (up to $50k).