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Burleigh Head National Park

What I CAN continue to do

Shannon McDonagh-Giles | May 2020

Exercise and movement can help keep our immune system strong, make us less susceptible to illness and is critically important to our mental health and wellbeing. With COVID-19 our lives have changed – making us rethink where we go, how we interact with people and mostly, how we spend our time.

Whether it’s our endless stretch of beaches, an abundance of bike paths, lush green areas or the ocean, with restrictions easing, the Gold Coast continues to be the perfect place to get active, reconnect with loved ones and enjoy some downtime.

My family’s journey like many others has been one of contrasts – adjusting gym time, playgrounds, socialising and beach play to something quite different. I transformed the garage into a small gym with basic weights and resistance bands. My son and I have regularly joined others in virtual kid’s yoga or live streamed aerobics sessions through one of the City’s active and healthy professionals. My husband and I set up mini obstacle courses in the backyard, spent time on the trampoline, played totem tennis and washed both cars, inside and out, way more regularly then we used to! And don’t forget dancing….there’s been plenty of that in our living room.

Zoom and Facetime have been our allies with regular catch ups with family and friends based locally, across the country and overseas. We’ve taken bike rides as a family, walked around our suburb and discovered local conservation area tracks.

To keep us healthy and well, I’ve discovered my inner chef by cooking loads of healthy, tasty recipes including slow-cooked Vietnamese stew, rice lasagne and Banh Xeo. ANZAC and Easter-inspired protein balls have also featured as have corned beef with tonnes of vegetables. Sharing protein balls with our elderly neighbour while keeping our distance has also made us feel like we are contributing to our community in a small way.

We’ve also swapped regular beach play for surfing, taking our boogie boards and surfboards to our local beach and giving it a go. Sure, we’re no Steph Gilmore or Mick Fanning but we’re getting active in the great outdoors and that’s all that matters.

Camping in the backyard over Easter was a fantastic experience, one we’ll probably do again before camping restrictions are eased in June. It was great eating marshmallows over a small fire-pit, listening to chilled music and enjoying great company. What more do you need from a camping trip?

I’ve also done nothing and that’s okay too. I’ve had time to think, meditate, read a book and rediscover 80s family favourites like Skippy, Benji and Flipper. I CAN relax and ponder life.

This time has helped me appreciate more than ever the great outdoors, our home life and the connections we have in our local area. Sunshine coupled with an assortment of natural assets makes us truly lucky to live on the Gold Coast during these uncertain times. Sure we may have felt a little trapped for a month or two, but compared to others around the world, we’ve got it really good.

As life returns to ‘normaI’ will I have a new ‘normal?’ Definitely – and for the better. I’ll continue to visit new places with my family and be active, progress surfing and include more downtime in my day, as I’ve realised how busy life was before. Nurturing my family’s healthy palate has become a priority, one that I plan to embrace into the future.

Keeping mentally, physically and spiritually well is really important now and into the future. Tap into the City’s Active & Healthy @ home to try a class or to find some tips to keep active and well.

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