There is a lot of talk about COVID-19 and its implications at the moment, especially surrounding the necessary 14 day self-isolation period. There are many articles and different pieces about which foods to purchase and store, how to keep yourself entertained, and how to avoid spreading the virus to others while in isolation. What there is less talk about however, is how to keep up your exercise while stuck inside at home.

If you are acutely unwell, you should follow the advice of your doctor or other health care professional in regards to appropriate levels of physical activity. However for those individuals who have recently returned from overseas, or who have been exposed to someone with the virus yet do not have any symptoms and are fit and able to continue exercising, we have some suggestions to ensure you get enough exercise within the walls of your home.

We all have different levels of exercise that we complete regularly, however the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults aged 18-64 should complete strengthening activities two times per week and should do weekly “at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.” So what does this mean? For the average adult this will mean two strength sessions, and then 2-5 aerobic exercise sessions depending on how long you have to complete them.

In isolation, you will have plenty of time to get in some exercise sessions. These may aid to improve your mood, increase your sense of productivity, maintain physical strength and fitness as well as maintain general health (such as your immune system!)

There are many YouTube videos, fitness apps and websites which can provide suggestions for different at-home, minimal equipment workouts. Below are some suggestions for different strength and aerobic based exercises. Many of the exercises can act as both depending on the way they are performed, however this may be a good starting point.



Strength- based exercises:

  • Squats (any variation): body weight or weighted squats can easily be performed at home and are fantastic exercises for strengthening your glutes, quadriceps and hamstring muscles. You can perform them to a chair or in space depending on your level of confidence.
  • Lunges: excellent for balance, mobility and lower body strength lunges don’t require any equipment and are simple to perform with good technique. Just keep your body upright and knees tracking directly over your toes.
  • Push ups: if you find push ups difficult (many of us do!) try doing them on your knees or easier again, with your hands on a stable chair or against a wall. There are also variations where you have your hands wider, or closer together depending on which muscles you want to target.
  • Calf raises: one of the simplest exercises that can be completed anywhere and anytime. Simply push up onto your toes slowly and then lower yourself down slowly. Can be done double leg, single leg or off a step depending on your strength levels.
  • Bridges: another fantastic lower body exercise with a wide range of difficulty levels which can cater to anyone, from elderly people to elite athletes. For a basic double leg bridge lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and slowly push your hips up towards the roof while squeezing your bottom. Slowly lower down and then repeat.
  • Dips: A good upper body exercise (if you have good shoulders) which only requires a sturdy chair or couch. Sit on the edge of the chair and place your arms on the chair as close as you can to your hips either side. Feet stay flat on the floor and bit out in front of you, then take your bottom off the chair, lower yourself using your arms as low as you can towards the floor and then push through your arms to bring yourself back up in line with the chair. Without sitting your bottom back on the chair, repeat that movement as many times as you’re comfortably able to.
  • Planks: a good upper body and abdominal muscle exercise. There are many variations of this exercise, from doing them on your knees, to up on your feet, side planks and adding different arm and leg movements. The aim is to keep your whole body from your shoulders to your feet in one straight line while supporting yourself on your elbows. Make sure you keep your shoulders directly over your elbows!



Aerobic based exercises:


  • Mountain climbers: performed in a push up position, you take one knee to your elbow on the same side, then return it to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. While this is a good exercise for mobility and shoulder strength, when performed at speed can be a good exercise for your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Running on the spot: while much more limiting than actual running, running on the spot can be a good substitution for when you have limited space. The faster the pace, the more you will increase your heart rate. Lift your knees high for a more intense exercise.
  • Dancing: Virtual classes/ activities such as Zumba, Just Dance or even just dancing around your living room can be a fun way to get your heart rate up.
  • Skipping: If you have a skipping rope, skipping can be a fantastic exercise to get some high intensity exercise in.
  • Stationary bike/ Treadmill: Both require you to already have a stationary bike or treadmill, however if you do they are some of the most effective indoor aerobic activities to maintain or improve your previous fitness.
  • High intensity circuit: If you perform a series of traditionally strength based exercises at a faster pace and with minimal rest periods it can be a great way to get some cardiorespiratory exercise in. You will most likely need to do a lighter weight to ensure you can perform the exercise for a period of time. It is very important to maintain good technique even as you fatigue. Stations of 30 seconds of work with a 30 second break are often a good starting point.

If you are fit and well, yet need to be isolated for a period of time these are some useful exercises to know to ensure you don’t finish your isolation period feeling unfit and unhealthy. If after your period of isolation and once you are cleared from the virus completely you feel that you could benefit from seeing a physiotherapist, book online or give us a call and we would love to help you on your health and fitness journey.



For more information on COVID-19 please see the following resources:

Australian Government Department of Health:

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services:

Australian Physiotherapy Association:



Sally Lynch Sports PhysioAbout The AuthorSally Lynch is a physiotherapist with a passion for exercise and fitness.  Her philosophy is that exercise is not only good for your body, it is also good for your mind.  So get to it!





McKinney, J., Lithwick, D., Morrison, B., & Nazzari, H. (2016). The health benefits of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness. The British Columbia Medical Journal58(3). Retrieved from

WHO | Physical Activity and Adults. (2020). Retrieved 14 March 2020, from