Coronavirus (COVID-19): Physical activity

Being physically active during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is very important for your physical and mental health.

It can enhance your mood, wellbeing and energy levels by helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Our coronavirus pages have help and advice on how to look after your mental wellbeing.

Keep moving to stay healthy

Any amount of physical activity, however small, is good for you.

Continuing to enjoy local walks, jogs or cycles is a great way to clear your head and stay active.

Remember to observe physical distancing guidance and try to build physical activity into your commute if you're still going out to work.

Staying active during the coronavirus outbreak

There’s a risk of becoming less active as we spend more time at home. It’s important to stay active, sit less and move more for your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Being active is for everyone, regardless of your age, ability or personal circumstances.

Physical activity at home

There are many activities you could do at home, such as walking up and down stairs, playing, dancing, gardening or taking part in a virtual fitness class.

Try to be active throughout the day.

If you are working from home or just finding yourself sitting more, try breaking up your time spent being inactive by standing and walking around your house every 30 minutes or whenever you're on the phone.

You could also do something active during TV advertising breaks, such as housework or other domestic chores, gardening or do some strength and balance exercises.

It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it's something you enjoy and keeps you moving.

Paths For All has information available on Keeping active at home or you can watch NHS Fitness videos.

Being active outdoors

If you don't have any coronavirus symptoms, you can go outdoors to be active as much as you like throughout the day.

Walking, jogging or cycling are a great way to be active and get some fresh air and sunlight.

As lock down restrictions ease, those who are not shielding and don’t have any coronavirus symptoms can now meet with people from two other households of up to 8 people once a day and enjoy non-contact outdoor activities in your local area.

So long as you follow hygiene and physical distancing measures you can now take part in activities such as golf, hiking, canoeing, swimming outdoors and angling.

Use your own equipment

Where possible do not share equipment, such as clubs, balls or rods, with others. Use your own and ensure appropriate hygiene rules are adhered to at all times.

You can now travel more than 5 miles away from your home, unless restrictions apply to your local area. Visit Gov.Scot for more details. .

If you go somewhere and find it crowded, change your plans and go somewhere less busy.

Remember to maintain 2 meter physical distancing and follow strict hygiene guidance. such as washing your hands as soon as you return home.

Make the most of your opportunities to be active outside.

This doesn't allow you to:

  • meet multiple households on the same day
  • meet in groups of more than 8 people

Find the right activity for you

As lockdown restrictions ease at different rates for different people, it’s important to follow the right guidance for you.

We have guidance for specific groups including; shielding, older adults, those with underlying health conditions, children and young people and key workers

Staying active while shielding

Shielding measures are for adults and children at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).

They should be followed when an extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support, or in a long-term care facility.

People shielding can now meet with one other household outdoors, in a group up to 8 people once a day and are encouraged to go outside to be active as often as you like, as long as you stay 2 metres away from other people and follow hygiene rules.

You can go outdoors for a walk, jog, cycle or wheel or to take part in non-contact activities such as; golf, bowls, tennis and outdoor swimming.

Keeping safe while shielding

If possible, try to choose times and places that are less busy and make sure to follow hygiene guidance, such as; washing your hands as soon as you return home.

Where possible, do not share equipment, such as clubs or balls, with others. Use your own and ensure you clean them after use.

It’s important for your mental and physical health that you stay active.

There are many exercises you can do from home, have a look at our physical activity at home section for some ideas and useful links.

Preparing to go outdoors

Your muscle strength and fitness can decrease if you are less active and spend more time sitting.

If you don’t feel as steady on your feet as you used to, try doing some strength and balance at home, building up your muscle strength, before going outdoors.

It may have been sometime since you were active outdoors, so start slowly, don’t go too far from home and gradually build up how far or fast you go.

If you're over-70 or have underlying health conditions

Now that restrictions have been eased you can be more active outdoors.

As we get older our muscle strength and bone health start to decline, so it's important we all do strength and balance exercises.

These exercises helps to build or maintain the healthy bones and muscles that are essential for daily tasks and moving around.

Public Health Scotland has prepared a really useful Up and about booklet (PDF, 5MB) about how to keep active safely, avoid trips and falls and look after your body, including feet and bones.

Or visit Age Scotland's - Staying Active and Wellbeing for information on how to keep well through physical activity.

Children and young people

Activities such as playing, dancing, taking part in a virtual workout or going on a walk, jog or cycle as a family are great ways to improve mood and reduce boredom.

It can also help stimulate learning and bonding with a parent or guardian and child.

Try to be active throughout the day, even if it's just taking a walk around the house.

Children and young people who are not shielding can now meet with larger groups and take part in non-contact activities such as tennis, badminton or golf. Some outdoor play areas are now also available to use.

Children and young people physical distancing rules

Children under 12 are not required to maintain physical distancing with other children or adults outdoors.

The number of overall household contacts in one day remains in line with existing guidance and adults will need to maintain physical distancing.

Children 12 to 17 years old should continue to follow physical distancing measures.

They can continue to meet in groups outdoors as in existing rules, a maximum of 3 households in the group and no more than 8 people in total.

There is now no limit to the number of these groups that the young person can meet in a day providing that each contact aligns with the guidance of physical distancing and strict hygiene measures.

Sharing equipment

Where possible do not share equipment, such as racket and ball. Use your own . See our Being active outdoors section for more information. for more information.

Parent Club has advice on keeping active during the coronavirus outbreak. Or visit Change4Life indoor games for children or accessible activities for children.

Get Active at Home has plenty of ideas for young people to stay active at home.

Key workers

Your work can be physically and mentally demanding, so it's important to do something active in your own time.

Continuing to enjoy local walks, jogs or cycles is a great way to clear your head and stay active. You could also try and incorporate some walking or cycling as part of your journey to work.

Remember to observe physical distancing guidance and try to build into your commute.

You can also stay active at home, by walking up and down stairs, dancing, gardening or taking part in a virtual fitness class.

Further information

It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it's something you enjoy and keeps you moving.

Here are some other online resources:

NHS – Fitness Videos

Stay In, Work Out #StayInWorkOut

WHO Be Active During Covid-19

Paths for All Home based exercises

Scottish Disability Sport