We have some N.E.A.T. ideas to share on exercise snacking and other enticing activities!

This blog we’re focusing on the first element of the Wheel of Wellbeing Body – Be Active… And not a moment too soon. The gyms have shut. Dance classes are cancelled. Bondi is ‘closed’ for business and the entire nation is being asked to stay at home and adhere to ‘physical distancing’ rules.

Now, this could be a great excuse to sit on the couch, crack open the emergency chocolate and settle in for a Netflix binge. But before you reach for the remote control, read this!

While we withdraw into our own space, it’s really important to keep physically active. It’s not just essential for our body, but it’s great – and essential – for our mind too.

Not convinced? Watch this funny video by the wonderful Dr Mike Evans, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Toronto. Do you accept Doctor Mike’s challenge? Can you spend 23 ½ hours sitting and sleeping?!

Ready, set, walk! How you CAN stay active during a pandemic

Ok, so Parkrun is suspended and it’s just too difficult to tango 1.5 metres apart, so what can you do to keep active while self-isolating? Plenty!

Take inspiration from The Blue Zones. Basically The Blue Zones are five regions in the world with the highest concentration of people living to age 100. Researchers wanted to know what their secret to longevity and a happy, healthy life was. And guess what they found? Nope, it wasn’t daily Zumba or gym sessions… In fact, what researchers discovered was that physical movement was a natural part of people’s lives: few of these happy centennials did ‘structured exercise’. What they did do, though, was move throughout the day naturally – they walked everywhere, gardened regularly, and performed chores around the house with enthusiasm!

Scientists call this N.E.A.T. or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – a fancy way of saying ‘all movement counts’. In simple terms, if we sit less and move more, we live longer. Weeding the garden, mopping the floors, walking around the block… it all counts.

How much exercise should you do? The magic number

Thirty minutes a day is a great start! And the good news? It doesn’t have to be all in one go – try 3 x 10 minute sessions, if you prefer. And when you feel like snacking on those chips, maybe swap in some of these:

And remember: try and make time to do something active each day that’s fun for you and that you enjoy (or at least enjoy the feeling of accomplishing it afterwards!). Something is better than nothing.

Keep safe, well and active.

Need help?

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or MensLine on 1300 99 78 99.

  • For a list of national helplines and websites visit Beyond Blue
  • If you are concerned about the health and safety of yourself, family or friends, you can find government advice on Coronavirus and a 24 hour government help line for Coronavirus at 1800 020 080.
  • And here for more information on Financial Support


This blog is adapted from a Supporting Project of WoW, Mentally Healthy City Townsville www.mhctsv.com.au. Word document + study attribution and further resource materials are available on request. Contact Tony Coggins, Lead Associate Population Mental Health, Implemental (formerly Maudsley International) and WoW educator on wow@implemental.org for more information.

Wheel of Well-being is owned by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 International License. Information on this license is available at www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0. Adaptations need to follow brand guidelines available at www.wheelofwellbeing.org and be signed off by SLaM. For permissions beyond the scope of this license contact hello@wheelofwellbeing.org.

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