Exercise in Newcastle skyrockets in wake of COVID lockdown

© Provided by ABC Health

If your local cycleway, footpath or ocean walk feels busier than usual, you aren’t going crazy.

It’s official, lockdown is getting us active.

New data from exercise app Strava shows a jump in exercise in the two weeks after Newcastle went into lockdown.

The number of runs and rides uploaded to the app increased by 42 per cent, while walking shot up by 82 per cent.

That compares to a 20 per cent increase in rides, 23 per cent rise in walks, and a 9 per cent jump in runs nationally in the same time period.

Around Glenrock, mountain bike trails have become a hive of activity.

Inspired by her son Dane’s mountain bike skills, Lee Upton purchased a bike and hit the dirt.

“We try and get out of the house at least once a day, if not more,” she said.

“Having the three kids at home, home-schooling can be hard and if you don’t get out of the house we tend to go a bit stir crazy and just being on top of each other, they can be a bit frustrated.”

Eleven-year-old Dane has been ripping around Newcastle’s trails for four years, but has taken a break from the more difficult terrain to teach Lee.

“I feel that I have to go a little bit easier and slower when I’m riding as I need to make sure she hasn’t fallen off at the end of every trail,” he said.

“It feels really good because you know you’re able to actually get out and do something rather than just sitting in a chair all day or on a computer.”

Mental health boost

The mental health impacts of lockdowns have been well documented.

A walk along the Newcastle foreshore with a friend has become a daily ritual for Raquelle.

‘We’re starting off the day with a sunrise walk to try to stay positive in the lockdown. It’s just to give us a bit of energy, stay positive and start the day in the right way,” Raquelle said

“It’s definitely improving our mental health, it just starts out day off brighter.”

For early riser Kirsten, exercise means social connection and a distraction from lockdown.

“Currently my business is closed and if I don’t get out for the day then it can be quite lonely,” she said

“I’m a single parent so it’s good to get out and walk, take the dog as well and just to catch up with friends and have some normality.”

Bike shops riding the momentum

With people scrambling to either buy new bikes or repair old ones, the phones have been running hot at local bike shops.

“Demand is outstripping supply, we can’t get enough bikes and that doesn’t look like it will change until mid next year”, said Brett Hadley, manager of Hadley Cycles in Newcastle.

His business has felt the impact of factory shutdowns in Malaysia and Japan.

“Due to COVID lockdowns [at] some of the producers of components for the bikes, it has led to a shortage of bike components.”

Sales assistant Suzanne Alley has been run off her feet.

“It’s been extremely busy over the last few weeks due to COVID.”

“I think with the early spring weather, cycling’s a great activity to do … also with the closure of a lot of the local gymnasiums as well as some of the junior sport that’s been postponed as well.”

“So people have realised cycling’s a great activity that people can do in a COVID-safe way”

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