Being active, playing sport and exercising brings a huge array of physical and mental health benefits.
With people spending more time at home, and no access to leisure and sport facilities, staying active and healthy has never been more of a challenge.
The Centre for Perioperative Care recently published guidance that people should prepare to fight coronavirus like they would prepare for surgery by staying fit and healthy.
So, what’s the current advice on what you can and can’t do?
And how can you ensure you take part in physical activity safely?
- Official guidance is that you are allowed to leave your house to exercise an unlimited amount of times (this is different to the earlier guidance of 'one form of exercise a day'), for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
- While you’re out, always keep at least two metres or more away from anyone outside of your household. This will stop the virus spreading.
- Minimise time outside and wash your hands when you return home.
- Even if you are self-isolating it is important to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Latest exercise guidelines can be found here (published April 24th 2020).
But you need to be careful:
- It's really important to use movement and activity as a way of breaking up your routine, but only if you feel well enough.
- If you’re unwell, use your energy to get better and don't try to be active. If you can get out of bed, then do so, but don't try to do too much. It is important not to do more exercise or activity than you are used to, to push yourself more than your body is used to, or to risk injury through exercise. The NHS is under significant strain and it is important that no unnecessary burden is placed on vital services.
- You should avoid doing anything overly strenuous due to the burden it can place on your immune system. Regular moderate exercise is good for immune systems but only if your body is used to it.
- Finally, if you’re feeling better after having had the virus, return to your normal routine very gradually and make sure to have additional rest periods during and after exercise.
Exercise and have fun safely
If you're unsure about your ability, it might be wise to start gradually and build up. Please feel free to refer to the UK Chief Medical Officer’s Physical Activity Guidelines when determining the level of activity appropriate to you.
Make sure you warm up and cool down to prevent injury, and make sure you keep hydrated.
Stop the exercises immediately if you feel faint or unwell, and if you still feel dizzy or unwell have a rest. Next time try something less strenuous, building up your activity gradually.
Make sure your workout area is safe and free of obstacles before exercising.
Supervise any young children who are taking part.
The CMO recommends 150 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity a week - with every activity and minute counting.
If you're pregnant, the Chief Medical Officer's (CMO's) advice is to start gradually if you weren't active prior to pregnancy, and if you were then to keep going but listen to your body and adapt.
Staying active during pregnancy helps with mood, sleep and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain.
The NHS has also produced guidance about getting active during pregnancy.
If you have a disability or long-term health condition
When you’re managing a health condition, being active is about finding what works for you, particularly when the way you feel can change from day to day.
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