Daniel’s 3 principles for returning to exercise and sport in lockdown

Cracking under Covid, or prospering through pandemic? 3 principles for returning to exercise and sport in lockdown.

Most of us have this one same question right now: How do I get back to the level of fitness I had before the world went crazy (aka coronavirus)? We are all pining after those days of Tuesdsay night mixed netball, Thursday night footy training and all manner of sports over the weekend with a dash of pilates or yoga classes to round us out. And now we’re supposed to replace all that from within the confines of our lounge room or the over-crowded Merri Creek trail No doubt, we’re trying!

However, the question we all should be asking is: how do I maintain my exercise and sport safely? In recent weeks and months, it has been more common than usual in our physio rooms to see patients coming in with an achilles issue or a flared up shoulder due to people doing exercises that they’re not used to doing. For example, you may not have gone for a run in 10 years, but since the gyms are closed you feel that this is your only option. We all need a bit of guidance around this.

So here are my 3 ‘T’s for prospering through the pandemic:

Type

Exercise type is concerned with what you aim to improve with exercise. The main exercise types include aerobic (or endurance), resistance (or strength), flexibility and balance. The key here is, where possible, to start with a type of exercise that is most alike the kind of activity you did prior to lockdown. For example, just because you’re able to run 10km regularly doesn’t mean your lower back will automatically be able to cope with starting a HIIT (high intensity interval training) program – I’m speaking from experience here!

It’s great to experiment with new types of exercises, but know your limits. Ask yourself: has my body done this movement at this intensity before? Start small. Build from there.

Time

The recommendation from the Department of Health for 18-64 year olds is 5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week – or 43mins per day. This does not have to be done all at once. For example, you might do a 20 minute online Pilates class in the morning and then go for a walk in the evening.

Tenacity 

Sure, it’s just so that this tip also starts with a ‘T’, but what I mean is: the best kind of exercise is the kind that gets done. So, to make sure those 43mins happen everyday:

  • Set your goal. Sign up to that 6 week challenge. Draw out your running / cycling goal on google maps.
  • Plan for it. Put it in your phone’s calendar. Lay out your exercise mat the night before. Put your runners at the front door.
  • Get support. You are far more likely to exercise if you know you have someone alongside you. Rope in your partner or housemate, or even the kids!

Make that exercise your own. Be smart about it, and your body and your brain will thank you for it.

Daniel Zeunert is a musculoskeletal physiotherapist at Inner North Physiotherapy and Clifton Hill Pilates and Rehab. He received his Masters of Physiotherapy Practice at La Trobe University in 2014, and has an interest in low back pain and returning to running after injury.