As new cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the second wave outbreak, Fitness Australia is calling on government to give all Australians including individuals, families and children more opportunities to safely exercise to keep their mental health and wellbeing in balance during isolation.
Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said the mental and physical health of Australians had suffered greatly during the first round of mass isolation, job losses and uncertainly and warned the second wave could see more people at risk.
“We understand the importance of limiting community transmission during this second wave outbreak. However, it is vital people be allowed to continue exercise or undertake physical activity daily to help maintain their mental health and wellbeing,” Mr Elvish said.
“People can still exercise safely in their own home, in their local area, and in states and territories where gyms are open provided they follow strict social distancing and hygiene practices.
“In fact, with the right protocols in place, it is Fitness Australia’s position that training with a Personal Trainer should be allowed under current restrictions in Victoria.
“As a fitness and health industry organisation our focus is on getting more Australians more active more often, even during COVID-19. While supporting the industry during this time, we are also focused on ensuring everyone continues to exercise regularly for their health and wellbeing – something that is more important now than ever.”
Mr Elvish said the second wave lockdowns and continued uncertainty was impacting many people all over again, leading to a COVID-19 induced fatigue.
“Unfortunately, good decisions have unintentional consequences and in the case of enforced lockdowns and isolation, business shutdowns and job losses the mental health of many Australians has suffered,” Mr Elvish said.
“For example, calls to Beyond Blue’s support services have risen substantially during COVID-19. There have also been more than 600,000 visits to their online Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service and more than 900,000 engagements on their online forums.”
“Lifeline is receiving a call every 30 seconds and saw a 22% increase in calls origination from Victoria when the recent lockdown was announced.”
“In our industry many Fitness Australia Personal Trainers have contacted me expressing their concerns for clients they are working with who need regular exercise to manage their condition.”
The role exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated and governments need to keep a focus on promoting safe, frequent exercise according to Mr Elvish.
“The almost 4 million Australians who have a gym membership know the benefits of exercise in preventing and/or managing a range of physical and mental health issues,” Mr Elvish said.
“They appreciate exercise being a regular part of their daily routine; some certainty in times of upheaval and anxiety. And of course, they enjoy the satisfaction of knowing exercise improves their personal immune system.
“We are calling on governments and health authorities to continue to promote safe exercise even when tighter restrictions are considered.
“Without this, there will be a significant long-term impact, and cost as the mental and physical health of more Australians continues to worsen.”