Fight COVID-19 with exercise!

Movement for Good Health – as important now as ever

The doors to the gym are closed, but we started to run, walk the dogs and cycle.


How do we keep ourselves fit? Because exercise is not just essential for toned bodies and strong muscles; it is the foundation of health, and currently, that means resilience, a body that is able to take on pathogens and win.


In addition, COVID-19 strikes the lungs: exercise is vital for lungs that work well and have good capacity.


We can keep in other ways than formal exercise programmes, however. We can harness the crucial power of NEAT, or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is – energy expenditure that’s associated with spontaneous movement, not planned physical exercise. Children are brilliant at it, fidgeting and wriggling and bouncing; we can all learn a lesson or two from watching them.


“Habitual exercise improves immune regulation,” scientists wrote in a review of evidence published in May last year. Those who exercise, who move more, have a reduced risk of illness.


It is not necessary to give up on movement for good health just because you’re stuck at home.

“It wasn’t that long ago that people moved all day long – every activity of daily life, from making food to visiting family to making furniture, involved physical activity,” says SASP President Rogier van Bever Donker. “Today, thanks to modern automation of many processes, many things that used to involve manual work no longer do. Low levels of what is called NEAT put people at risk of a range of conditions, from obesity to diabetes to cancer and more. All day, every day, you need to look for opportunities for physical activity that goes beyond the gym or running track, the ordinary physical movements of normal life.”


Even small increases in light-intensity physical activity can reduce your risk of poor health, scientists have found – if you add as little as 30 minutes a day, broken up into chunks of ten minutes or even less at a time, if you like.

And home is a great place to do this.

Get vigorous in the kitchen – chop and grate and beat and knead, using muscle power instead of small appliances.

If you need to have a phone chat, get up and walk while chatting.

Do your own housework as much as possible – washing walls and pushing mops are great movement tactics.

Take time to do renovations – scrubbing down gutters, varnishing doors, painting walls. It is all great exercise, and will make you feel better mentally, too.

Make a habit of moving even when you are still: clench your toes and ‘circle’ your feet while watching TV; do scissors leg exercises on the bed while reading.

Have fun with your children – nothing like robust physical play to get the blood moving!


Celebrate Movement for Good Health Day NOW by getting your blood pumping and boosting your immunity.


Article courtesy of the South African  Society of Physiotherapy. (