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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented change in how we live our lives. Though we do not know for how long this change will be, extensive measures including social distancing and a general restriction of the movement have been put in place to combat the situation pending the development of vaccines which would hopefully see us return to our usual lives. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that global physical activity and exercise participation might have taken a plunge due to the enforcement of these restrictions. The pandemic has forced many of us to stay at home and sit down more than we normally do. Also, now that many businesses are asking members of their staff who can to work from home, the possibility of active travel is reduced. Those who have gym registrations have also been prevented from hitting the gym making it hard for them to keep up with their regimented fitness plan. Staying at home is even more challenging for those who are not used to a lot of physical activity.

As these restrictions cause restrictions in our mobility, pursuing every avenue to be physically active is more important than ever. Staying physically active is just as important for our bodies as it is to help cope with the panic, anxiety and overall mental health implication of COVID-19. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is important that people of all ages and abilities are as physically active as possible. In fact WHO has recommendations on how much physical activity people of different age groups should be engaged in for health benefits. 

Generally, it is recommended that all children and adolescents aged 5 – 17 years should do at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity while adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week.

Moreover, it is important not to lose sight of the numerous benefits of participation in physical activity. Physical activity helps to deal with stress by reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression which may be caused by too much time at home or by a drain on our finances. It is worth noting that these stressors can have huge effects on our mood and quality of sleep. Physical activity also helps to improve the symptoms of common chronic non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes which increases the risk of COVID-19 mortality.

While our specific circumstances may differ, there are a few activities we can engage in where we live. Some forms of physical activity we can take advantage of during this period include walking in the area within which you are allowed, dancing, yoga, skipping, gardening, house cleaning, making use of exercise mobile apps or participating in other online or televised home workout sessions. 

Physical activity is possible at home even without gym equipments
Physical activity is possible at home even without gym equipments

For many people, these easy-sounding tasks might still be hard to begin or initiate but with the right amount of motivation from family and friends both physically and virtually, it can be achieved. A few ways to help motivate include making these activities fun to do! Turn up your favourite playlist to help with the mood too.

Dancing is also a form of physical activity
Dancing is also a form of physical activity

For individuals with specific physical impairments, limitations, or diseases or those who are at high risk of injury, while it is important to move more and sit less, it is even more paramount to consider safety first. If you are in any doubt about the safety of any activity, consult with your physician or physical therapist before you begin.