Marking World Health Day during the time of COVID-19

Surely there is no better way to celebrate World Health Day, then to focus attention on the many positives of keeping physically fit? This is especially true with the current coronavirus pandemic which is leaving many of us isolated.

It’s more important than ever to look after yourself and pay attention to self-care. Being physically active will help to boost your immunity and your mental well-being.

Our team of exercise therapists, Felicity Austin and Kane Perris, along with activity officer Alessia Finocchiaro, have been providing online sessions to our clients in recent weeks.

To mark World Health Day we thought we’d ask them how it’s been going.

Why is so important to keep exercising during the pandemic?

Exercise equipment is sanitised and dropped at peoples' houses Felicity: Many of our clients have chronic and complex needs and it’s imperative to their health that they keep exercising. We are just approaching it in a different way. I suppose we thought outside the box and decided to offer what I call ‘Telehealth’.

We’ve been delivering programs which they can complete in the comfort of their own homes. Equipment has been sanitised and dropped off to their house so they can achieve their fitness goals. They are the masters of adapting and figuring out how to put the puzzle together and they’ve been amazing.

Kane: Yes, it’s been fantastic to see our older clients continue with their regular appointments. We know that as people get older physical function declines, rates of anxiety and depression increase, so we want to look after their total well-being to boost their psychological stability and their ‘happy hormones’. All the evidence, including research shown in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation Study (link opens in new window), points to the positive benefits.

People have been sending us such fantastic feedback. We know that we’re doing something valued and worthwhile.

I don’t feel as though Felicity is teaching me virtually, it’s as if she’s standing next to me, it’s all so real and clear.

Narelle Spans
Exercise Physiology client

Kane really worked hard to ensure I had progams tailored to my needs which matched the equipment I had at home. I’ve surprised myself at how regularly I’ve been getting on the treadmill, and using my fit-ball and weights.

Fran Bruce
VisAbility client

Felicity sits at a garden table, in front of laptop with a phone in her handIs it as effective as the real thing?

Felicity: All the research shows that yes it is just as effective. In 2019 an in-depth study showed that online therapy brings the same benefits as face-to-face delivery and achieves equally high levels of satisfaction for rehabilitation purposes.

We’re now extending these sessions to reach our Tasmanian VisAbility family.

What does a session involve?

Kane: We guide each client through a warm-up and mobility routine before we move onto specific exercises for each individual. Each session lasts for 45 minutes and, as well as exercises, can incorporate a stretch, meditation, relaxation as well as a cool down. This helps to relax the muscles and slow the heart rate post-exercise

What about the Community Activity Centre, is that running online?

Table with range of material for clients including plant pots for mosaics, literature and wood work kits.Alessia: Yes it is. The uptake from clients has been around 90% which is really impressive. We’ve had a full timetable which has included activities including knitting, painting, cooking, music appreciation, crafts and a regular book club. The online Italian classes have been really popular along with quizzes.

Before the Perron Centre shut its doors, we sent clients home with Sudoku quizzes, crosswords and puzzles in ‘take home kits’. For those people who are part of craft groups, we have just tweaked what they’ll be doing. For example with the mosaic group, instead of doing a mosaic on a table, we’ve been giving them a small terracotta pot plant so they can put tiled mosaics on this instead. We’ve sent smaller projects out for the woodwork team as well.

We really want as many people to get involved. We have nearly a hundred people on-board doing the Community Activity Centre online, but we always have room for more.

Tips to help yourself

So as you enjoy World Health Day, why not take action, motivate yourself and follow some of the team’s tips.

  • Get in touch with Felicity and Kane to book a Telehealth Exercise Session.
  • Join our weekly mediation and relaxation classes.
  • Go for a walk outside with a support worker or relative if you can.
  • Take time to step outside for some fresh air, to do some deep breathing or meditation.
  • Try out a new app which is good for your well-being such as ‘Calm’ to help keep you on track.

So, if you want to get involved, contact us or via the switchboard number 1800 847 466.

Our Exercise Physiology service is available to all our clients whatever age – seniors, adults, children and early years