Staying Fit in Isolation – a Guide for our Rotary friends

Nothing keeps you fitter than running around after 180+ senior high school students at a RYDA day.  Add to that all the work that goes into putting up and pulling down marquees, running from room to room setting up laptops and screens, flying about town organising catering and other supplies and everything else that goes into making RYDA happen.  All that work would give a 1980’s Jane Fonda a run for her money.

Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, our hard-working Rotarians have been grounded and told to stay indoors.  For people who are constantly on the move, that is a challenge.  So, we’ve searched the net to find some simple exercises to keep you strong and fit until you can get out into the world again.

Keep in mind, we’re road safety people, not doctors.  As always, please check in with your GP before starting any new exercise programs and ask their advice on the types, frequency and amount of exercise you should be doing.  Also, it’s a good idea to have an isolation buddy on hand to help if you need it.  

Start slowly (with a couple of repetitions of each) if you haven’t exercised for a couple of weeks.  Increase repetitions if you feel like you need a challenge after a couple of days.  Warm up for five minutes before each exercise session. Walking slowly and stretching are good warm-up activities. You should also cool down with more stretching for five minutes when you finish exercising.

Exercises to improve strength

You don’t have to be Arnie Schwarzenegger to take on a little strength training – this training can help you with all those daily things like climbing stairs and getting up from those super soft couches – you know, the ones that feel like they’re trying to swallow you whole!  They’ll keep you in great shape for when you back lifting groceries in and out of the car boot.  Strength training increases bone density by 1-3% and improves heart health.

Here are a couple of routines you can do every day to build strength:

Chair Squats

  1. Stand in front of a chair with your feet as far apart as your hips.
  2. Keep your shoulders and chest upright and bend your knees.
  3. Lower your bottom so you sit down.
  4. Then push your body back up to return to a standing position (try not to use your arms to push yourself up).

Wall Push-Ups

  1. Stand in front of a sturdy wall, up to about half a metre away but as close as you need to.
  2. Place your hands up against the wall directly in front of your shoulders.
  3. Keep your body straight and bend your elbows to lean in towards the wall.
  4. Stop with your face close to the wall and then straighten your arms to push your body away from the wall.

Exercises to improve balance

Falls are one of the leading causes of visits to the emergency room.  There are a few balance routines you can do to help you stay on your feet:

Single Foot Stand – The Flamingo

  1. Stand behind a steady, unmoveable chair and hold onto the back.
  2. Pick up your left foot and balance on your right foot as long as is comfortable.
  3. Place your left foot down and then lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot

Ultimately, you are aiming to be able to stand on one foot without holding the chair for up to a minute.

Tippy Toe Lift – The Ballerina

  1. Stand beside or behind an unmoveable chair or counter and place your hands on the surface for support.
  2. Push yourself up onto your tippy toes as high as is comfortable and then return back to a flat foot. Repeat.

Exercises for flexibility

Tight and sore muscles make it hard to do the little things that once upon a time, you never even thought about – putting on shoes, pulling up socks, reaching to the top shelf or checking your blind spots while driving.  Improving flexibility helps you move more freely and maintain good posture.

Don’t forget to warm up those muscles first so your flexibility exercises are controlled.  Hold a stretch for up to 30 seconds while you breathe deeply in and out.

Wall Angels

This exercise helps to open up your chest and to decrease that tightness in the middle of your back that develops as a result of looking down.  Repeat this exercise a couple times to make some beautiful imaginary angel wings.

  1. Stand about 5-10 cms away from the wall and place your head and lower back flat against the wall.
  2. Put your hands at your sides with the palms out and the backs of your hands against the wall.
  3. Keeping your arms touching the wall, raise them up above your head (or as high as is comfortable).

Head Turn

This exercise helps to keep your neck mobile, that’s important for when you’re back behind the wheel.

  1. Stand or sit with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
  2. Turn your head slowly to the right until you feel a light stretch.
  3. Hold that position and then turn your head slowly to the left.

Another option is to join an online class.  There are heaps of them around on Facebook but here’s one we know you’ll love.  While chatting with one of our wonderful Mind Matters/I in Drive facilitators from Christchurch, we learned that she is running a 30 minute gentle exercise program (standing and seated) which can be accessed online via Facebook from anywhere in the world.  The program is run in conjunction with Christchurch City Council.  If you can’t make it to the class itself, you can find the videos on the page.  We know from experience that she’s an enthusiastic and skilled facilitator so you’ll be in good hands.  Just jump onto Facebook, ‘like’ the page and check the schedule for ‘Gentle Exercise with Liona’.  Click here


So there you go.  Some simple exercises that will help you keep strong, balanced and flexible so that as soon as the doors are open again, you’ll be ready to run towards your family with arms wide open, ready for the longest hug ever.  Meanwhile, stay active and stay safe.