For all of its challenges, living in lockdown has some benefits too.
I don't think I have seen so many families out exercising together since I was a kid.
When I was growing up, instead of year-round weekend sport and various organised sporting activities each week, we went bushwalking, on family bikes rides and also did a fair bit of roller skating - it was the 80s after all. The point is our neighbourhood was full of kids just playing, riding bikes and skateboards each and every day.
Now, between our sporting pursuits and those of our three kids - usually at the same time at different locations - I feel like we have limited time being active together, or just being at home. But living in isolation has given us plenty of both. And we are not alone. Metaphorically that is, because obviously we literally are alone at the moment.
Every day we have been taking the kids around the neighbourhood for bike rides, walks and jogs. And it has been great to see plenty of other families doing the same.
Our road has gone from being super busy with cars in the mornings and afternoons to now being like Pitt Street because of foot traffic instead at those times.
I have started wondering whether this experience will change our way of thinking beyond life in lockdown. Will we drop some organised sporting activities and instead free up time for long family bike rides and walks?
Either way, we are making the most of it for now. As are many others. Apparently cycling has had such of a resurgence in recent weeks that quite a few bike shops are doing a roaring trade at the moment. While gyms are shut and sports are on hold, cycling is an activity that most of the family can do to keep moving.
It is also an activity where it doesn't matter how long it's been since you have been on a bike, getting back in the saddle requires little effort. And it is one for the ages. I have loved seeing people around our neighbourhood across a range of ages in recent weeks enjoying the benefits of cycling.
According to betterhealth.vic.gov.au, it only takes two to four hours a week of cycling to achieve a general improvement to your health.
"Regular physical activity can help protect you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis," the Victorian Government's handy health website says.
"Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
"Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment.Riding to work or the shops is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine."
It lists the benefits of cycling as:
- Low impact - it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise.
- A good muscle workout- cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.
- Easy - unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Most people know how to ride a bike and, once you learn, you don't forget.
- Good for strength and stamina- cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness.
- As intense as you want- cycling can be done at very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.
- A fun way to get fit- the adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.
- Time-efficient - as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time ... with healthy exercise.
If you are missing competitive sport - the moment I turned to the people behind me after packing my own grocery bags in record time last week and yelled, "I just smashed that", was a clear indication that I am - then the strava cycling app might be for you. You can track your rides and times and share them with friends to try to better.
Whether it is riding around your suburb, hitting the trails and immersing yourself in nature with a bush ride or using a trainer at home, keeping yourself moving at the moment through cycling is good for your mental health and will also be of benefit physically when your sporting endeavours swing back into action. You could even set yourself a goal to do a local cycling event when life returns to "normal".
20-30 minutes, cycling
Option 1 (lower intensity): Go for a slow bike ride around your neighbourhood or in the comfort of your home on a bike trainer.
Option 2 (moderate intensity): 5min easy warm-up followed by 10-20 minutes of cycling intervals. Intervals, at home on a trainer or outdoors, could be 30 seconds going harder followed by 60 seconds slower. Finish with a cruisy 5min cool-down.
Option 3 (higher intensity): Mix up some cycling with bodyweight exercises, indoors or out. It could be 10 squats, 5 push-ups, 10 diagonal lunges, 10 jump squats, 10 plank jacks, 10 ab rotation/Russian twist then ride 2min indoors on a trainer or around the block. Repeat 4 times.
- Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.