Physical Activity

Why Do Physical Activity?

A poster outlining the benefits of physical health suggestion on it provided by the graduate attributes programme


During the current Covid-19 pandemic, staying at home for prolonged periods of time can pose a significant challenge for remaining physically active. Sedentary behaviour and low levels of physical activity can have many negative effects on our health, well-being and quality of life. Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your overall health particularly at this time with extensive benefits including better brain health, disease prevention, enhanced immunity, weight management, improved bone health and muscle strength as well as increased longevity. Additionally, there is enhanced mental well-being including positive self-esteem and reduced anxiety, improved self-confidence and peer acceptance. Regular exercise can aid better sleep, manage stress, boost your mood, improve memory and help concentrate better. 

How Much Physical Activity Should I Do?

This differs for everyone and it's important you only undertake what feels right for you currently depending on factors such as your previous exercising experience, if you are studying for exams, etc. The WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. These recommendations can still be achieved even at home, with no special equipment and with limited space. 

  • 150 mins a week (5x30min sessions, 3x50min sessions)
  • Build it up slowly over 30 days
  • Fit it feasibly into weekly routine (morning vs evening, walk to college, take stairs, get off bus earlier).
  • Pick exercise you enjoy: classes vs. gym, alone vs. company, intense vs. normal, indoors vs. outdoors

Some further resources

What Intensity Should I Exercise At?

There are a number of ways to gauge the intensity of activity, via your breathing rate, heart rate or your own rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Check out the CDC website for guidance on using these.

What are the best activities to do?

The ideal activity/activities for anyone is what you enjoy doing and will undertake on a regular basis. The following are the some of the easiest and most simple to do.

Additional Tips for Staying Active

The following are some practical tips on how to stay active and reduce sedentary behaviour whilst at home in self-quarantine:

  • Take short active breaks during the day. Short bouts of physical activity can easily add up to the weekly recommendations. These may include dancing, jogging on the spot, a short Pilates session, playing with children, as well as performing some physical domestic chores such as hoovering and gardening.
  • Listen to music as you exercise. Whether you are out for a walk, or doing some exercise at home, listen to your favourite music for motivation.
  • Follow an online exercise class. Avail of the extensive range of free online exercise classes to be found on YouTube. If you have no experience performing these exercises, be cautious and aware of your own limitations.
  • Stand up. Reduce your sedentary time by standing up whenever possible. Ideally, aim to interrupt sitting and reclining time every 30 minutes. Consider setting up a standing desk by using a high table or stacking a pile of books or other material. During sedentary leisure time prioritize cognitively stimulating activities, such as reading, board games, and puzzles.
  • Walk. Even in small spaces, walking around or walking on the spot, can help you remain active. If you have a call, stand up or walk around your home while you talk. If you decide to go outside to walk or exercise, be sure to maintain at least a 2-meter distance from other people, and there are extra benefits if you can take a short walk in nature.

Keeping Cork Healthy

The Mardyke Arena UCC is also partnering with The Echo to bring you the "Keeping Cork Healthy" series. This series brings nutrition tips, recipes, tips from Cork athletes, activity for older adults and lots more. 

Advice for more Active Individuals

If you are a seasoned competitive athlete/player the key focus during the current lockdown should be on staying healthy and reamining physically active. It's pointless trying to stay in top physical condition as you would during your competition/play season. Instead use this time to focus on a regular, balanced and varied training regime that you enjoy and maintains good basic fitness. At the same time you can use this period as an opportunity to address aspects of your technique in your sport, try out some new training sessions, and work on any injury prone areas you have had over recent years.

Key tips are:

  • Remain active - this is key as it's what you are used to. While social distancing may prevent you from training with others or going to the gym/pool you can still maintain and improve your fitness at home.
  • Do bodyweight exercises - these are ideal for maintaining strength and preventing injury. These can be done indoors, in the back garden or when you are away from home doing a jog. These include squats and squat jumps, reverse lunges, single-leg squats, glute bridges, front and side planks, press-ups, dips, deadbugs, sit ups, jumping jacks, burpees and crunches. Aim for 20-30 seconds in each followed by a short rest of up to 30 seconds.
  • Go for a solo run/jog outside - easily one of the best ways to maintain your aerobic capacity but make sure you stay within the required distance of your home. Try to use areas less crowded and integrate some change of pace using walk/jog/run/sprint. Finding a hill of ~5-10% and doing some efforts of ~20-60 seconds can be a great way to add some strength/anaerobic training.
  • Perform flexibility and mobility sessions - another area that can be a focus during the restrictions is to integrate some foam rolling and static stretching to maintain good range of motion.
  • Do some cross training - try including some activities you wouldn't do in your normal training routine such as going for a short bike ride, doing a Pilates session, a Yoga class, some circuits, as these can be a fun alternative way to stay physically active.

Further resources for Active Individuals

Injury Prevention

Select the options below for 

  • Exercise tips forinjury prevention during the study period, 
  • Acute injury management should you get injured (PRICE Wars method)
  • Tips for study posture while studying

Supported by

Keep Well

Bí Sláintúil

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