Getting active and spending time outdoors are important for our overall physical and mental wellness. There are still plenty of ways to be active and get outside, even if working or isolating at home.
It is recommended that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. With physical activity, more is better! Increased physical activity leads to greater health benefits.
Walking and cycling to get to work, school and other places may be a new change to your daily routine because of COVID-19, or it may be something you did before the pandemic. Either way, walking and cycling or wheeling (e.g. skateboarding, roller blading, scootering etc.) is still considered a safe and healthy choice to get around. It is also an easy way to build physical activity into the day!
The Ontario Active School Travel Council has offered general recommendations for safe and healthy school travel. The Council recommends active school travel (walking and wheeling) for all students not traveling by school bus or public transit. These guidelines include:
- Walking and wheeling to school whenever possible.
- Where more pedestrians are present on sidewalks/paths near schools, dismount from bikes.
- Allowing children to walk/wheel independently all or part of the way to school and practice the route to school before the first trip.
- Collaborating with other families and taking turns leading small groups of children to walk/wheel together if children need to be supervised.
- When parents need to drive, parking the car one or more blocks from the school site and walking the rest of the way.
It is important to be mindful of safety due to traffic congestion in school zones. Remember to keep heads up, phones down and watch for traffic. Choose a route to school that has sidewalks or lower levels of traffic.
Ride with your children until they are approximately 10 years of age when they are better able to judge the speed of oncoming traffic. Safer places for children to ride alone can include bike paths and streets with lower speed limits.
Bikes require working brakes, inflated tires, and reflectors and should be the correct size. Always wear a helmet, and fit it properly every time you ride. Obey the rules of the road - learn how to use hand signals. Remember to keep heads up, phones down and watch for traffic. Never dodge cars and keep alert for open car doors as you ride.
In Your Yard
If you have access to a yard, try to get outside in your available yard space and enjoy the fresh air. Play seasonal games or sports or do some exercises in a clear, dry space. Yard work and shovelling are also great ways to add some active time to your day.
At the Park
Be mindful that playground equipment is not regularly sanitized. Consider bringing hand sanitizer with you and using it before and after playing on any equipment.
Utilize parks and other open spaces to play seasonal games or sports, do some exercises or just run/walk around.
Check with your municipality for information on which specific facilities are open and the rules for each.
If you can’t get outside or the weather is not cooperating, there are many ways to be active indoors. Be creative and use what you have at home to keep everyone moving. Put on some music and dance, play a dance game (e.g. Just Dance), follow an exercise video, walk some flights of stairs or do some exercises, like push-ups and squats. Access online resources for both live and recorded activities that you can follow along with.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Physical inactivity is a risk factor for chronic disease. It is recommended that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
Here are some tips to keep active during the workday while working remotely:
- Build movement into your daily routine. Try setting an alarm to remind you to get up, move, and stretch every hour.
- Go for a quick walk around your neighbourhood on your breaks.
- Try some bodyweight exercises that don’t need much space or equipment but still get your heart pumping - like crunches, squats, or planks.
- If you have some extra time on your lunch break, try some pilates or yoga, have a dance party or do some yard work or house cleaning.
- Download the ParticipACTION app (on Apple App Store or Google Play) for tips for being active at home. BONUS: they award weekly, monthly, and quarterly draws just for using their app.
Being flexible with how you achieve your physical activity minutes while working from home will help you sit less and move more, even when it’s challenging.