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

by Spanner in the Works

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 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 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 Adaptations need to follow brand guidelines available at and be signed off by SLaM. For permissions beyond the scope of this license contact


markwinston 2 April 2020 - 2:56 am

Staying active for 20-30 minutes a day or more has the additional side benefit of clearing the mind of negativity. It also helps produce problem-solving ideas that you were not initially thinking about. If you have any questions let me know. I was a physical trainer for a while in a past life. Trained some of Dick Chaney’s body men and women at one time. So I know a little bit. So let me hear from you…

theshedonline 2 April 2020 - 8:44 am

Hi Mark! You could start this as a discussion board thread over in the Health & Wellbeing Discussion Board.

markwinston 9 April 2020 - 12:49 pm

Now that all the gyms are closed you can actually learn to live without them for a bit. Pushups are a universal exercise. They work your chest, shoulders, arms, and back. Your core is also utilized for keeping you straight and stable while performing the exercise. Your goal could be to build up to 50 a day. in 5 sets, 10 each. Think about it, I bet you could do 10 pushups tomorrow. Then 11 the next day. Try it you’ll challenge yourself. It will also break-up the boredom of self-isolation. Let me know how it goes…

Steven Werner 14 April 2020 - 3:52 am

My wife and I used to go to the gym nearly every day, in addition to her playing tennis and me playing golf. Now we have an area on our back deck where we stretch, work on core strength and balance. My wife has been walking quite a bit and I’ve dusted off my old bicycle and am now riding 10 miles a day – since we live in Florida it’s pretty flat so no big hills to climb! We’ve also tried to focus more on what we are eating and how much we are consuming. So far, we haven’t gained any weight.!!

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