Staying healthy has never been more important. Eating well and keeping active supports our physical and mental health – especially during times of change.

COVID-19 is constantly shifting our daily habits – when and where we work, how we get active and keep kids entertained, and what we eat. But that doesn't mean we can't make new healthy habits. It could take some getting used to, but you might be surprised just how adaptable your family is!

Follow our tips for making new healthy habits in your home.

Exercise and physical activity – what's allowed?

Staying active is one of the best things you can do to keep your body and mind healthy. The types of activities you can do during COVID-19 will depend on whether or not you have symptoms, or if there are restrictions on leaving your home.

Make sure you follow the NSW Government's instructions to protect yourself and others. This advice applies to people living in NSW and is being updated regularly. If you live outside of NSW, follow the relevant State or Territory advice.

What activities can I do safely within physical distancing restrictions?

The NSW Government has allowed sport and recreation activities to reopen with strict guidelines.

Protect yourself and others by following physical distancing and practising good hygiene advice from NSW Health when you exercise. Even as NSW restrictions begin to change, it's important that you continue to avoid close contact with other people and keep a minimum 1.5 metres distance from others at all times.

Activities that are allowed include:

  • gyms and recreation facilities with up to 20 people per class and only one person per 4 square metres
  • community sport competitions – for activities that involve more than 20 participants, the organiser must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Check the current advice for community sport
  • walking, jogging or running in an open outdoor space
  • home workouts
  • outdoor workouts or exercise in a public place
  • outdoor playground and exercise equipment can be used with caution. Make sure you practice good hygiene by washing or sanitising hands before and after use
  • swimming pools 
  • outdoor activities including the use of skate parks and BMX bike tracks.

If you have returned from overseas travel, been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, follow the self-isolation and mandatory quarantine guidelines.

Home activity ideas for adults

Spending more time at home? Learn what you can do to stay active as COVID-19 changes our daily habits.

Photo of mother in yard playing with a ball with her teenage son

  • Try one of our easy home exercises – suitable for all fitness levels.
  • Explore workout apps and videos online.
  • Do some laps of the stairs to get your heart rate up.
  • Learn a dance routine – explore fun tutorials online or on social media.
  • Floor exercises like pilates or yoga.
  • Break out the skipping rope (or borrow one from the kids).
  • Get active with the kids and play games like 'stuck in the mud', hopscotch, or 'hide and seek', or simply kick a ball around in your backyard.
  • Check out our quick tips for busy people for more ways to stay active.

If you need help getting started with a healthier routine, now could be the best time to join Get Healthy – a free NSW Health phone-based health coaching service for adults.

Home activity ideas for kids

Children need physical activity to thrive – it helps support their growth, development, sleep, mood and concentration.

Keeping them active and entertained (and safe) at home can present some challenges if they're used to school and day care routines. So what can you do to help? Check out some fun ideas from our community about how they are staying healthy and active.

  • Set a routine – plan your day or week together so that learning, play time, meals and rest are broken up throughout the day and kids know what to expect.
  • Timers to break up screen time and encourage movement.
  • Work together – listen to this Short and Curly podcast to help kids learn about working together when life gets hard.
  • Allow kids to lead the activities to give them a sense of ownership.
  • If you are looking for more expert guidance on navigating these challenges with children, visit the COVID-19 resource.

And if you need some inspiration for getting active inside, here are some ideas and resources.

Play time

Allow kids to do activities they enjoy, especially those that get their heart rates up. Try:

  • running races up and down stairs
  • make your own hopscotch – outline your driveway or porch with chalk or play indoors using tape
  • get kids dancing with online dance videos
  • your favourite online kid-friendly workouts
  • handstands against the wall (maybe take shoes off first!)
  • build an indoor fort or cubby house
  • plant a herb or veggie garden
  • playing with balloons rather than balls (to protect those breakables)
  • an indoor mini-golf course using ping-pong balls and something safe like a spatula.

Quiet time

  • Online guided yoga or meditation.
  • Virtual excursions to keep brains active (just be mindful of screen time).
  • Use what you have at home – board games, puzzles, Lego, cards, books, craft.
  • Give children chores to do around the house each day.
  • Kids' virtual illustration classes.
  • Visit animals at the zoo, without leaving home.

How much activity do kids need?

There's no doubt it's challenging to be as active as usual while we're socially distancing. The Australian Department of Health recommends that where possible, children and teens aged 5-17 years need:

  • one hour or more each day of moderate to vigorous physical activity
  • several hours a day of a variety of light physical activities
  • no more than 2 hours per day of screen time (except video chatting).

Ideally, children under 5 should spend at least 180 minutes doing a variety of physical activities, and infants under 1 need 30 minutes of tummy time as well as lots of interactive play throughout the day. Try keeping screen time to under 1 hour a day for kids 3-5 and no screen time for toddlers and babies under 2 (except video chatting).

Remember, getting enough sleep is also important for all children (and adults too!).

Healthy eating during COVID-19

Changes to mealtime and cooking habits might take some getting used to – like availability of ingredients, access to groceries and fresh food, and more time spent cooking at home. Explore our expert tips for rethinking healthy eating habits during this time of change.