MODERN promenading has fast become the trend in Ballarat as residents find ways to move under the state's strict social distancing measures to prevent coronavirus spread.
Lake Wendouree's Steve Moneghetti Track has been packed with runners and walkers - solo, in pairs or family household members - most times of the day, but particularly for the Easter long weekend.
Bushwalks have also made a resurgence about the region and so too has the good ol' walk-around-the block with exercise one of the four reasons you can leave your house and people being encouraged to stick to their neighbourhood to do so.
Even those working from home can hardly help but notice residential streets bustling more with children on bikes and scooters.
This comes after the suspension of organised sport and shutdown of gyms, playgrounds and skate parks.
Victoria University's Professor Rosemary Calder, who leads Australia Health Policy Collaboration, said it was vital people keep exercising during lockdown to prevent chronic illness, which puts people at a higher risk for needing hospital should they contract COVID-19.
Professor Calder said evidence coming from the United States, Italy and China was showing between 78 to 99 per cent of people hospitalised with COVID-19 had a pre-existing chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.
One in two Australians have a chronic disease, according to Australia's latest health tracker data from VU's Mitchell Institute.
More than one-third of Australia's chronic disease could be prevented by reducing risk factors including smoking, a lack of physical activity, poor diet, high blood pressure and alcohol, Mitchell Institute research shows.
Professor Calder said all factors were an increased risk in isolation.
Ballarat has long been put in the spotlight by health bodies for chronic illness, in particular heart disease and weight.
Professor Calder said while it was great to hear about so many people out walking and running, this was just the beginning.
"The main message we're trying to get through is prevention. From what we're learning now, I hope this lesson continues past COVID-19," Professor Calder said. "It is people with chronic illness who are most at risk with COID-19. That's a big lesson to learn."
City of Ballarat councillor Samantha McIntosh has previously said "polite social distancing" has long been quite the thing at Lake Wendouree for people running, walking and riding.
Unlike other popular regional lakes, like in Mount Gambier, Lake Wendouree still has two-way foot traffic for social distancing.
Ballarat's two biggest health risks in isolation are preventable
A slow-down on the city's new walking trend and boredom eating are the two big health risks for people in isolation as Ballarat weather gets cold, a leading think-tanker says.
Professor Rosemary Calder, who leads the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, said we need to get back to thinking from less convenient eras in a bid to stay physically active and eating well amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This means getting out for exercise no matter the weather and being conscious of both food choice and only eating when hungry all to help boost our immune systems. Professor Calder said this was also vital for people with chronic illness to ensure pre-existing conditions do not deteriorate.
Exercise and eating well are key factors for preventing chronic illness, which has been proven a major contributor to hospitalisation for people with COVID-19 in the United States, Italy and China.
While extra couch time for streaming your favourite shows with snacks might appeal, Professor Calder said the risks of chronic illness are a whole community issue that need highlighting before the issue went up a notch in isolation.
People have learnt to rely on things to drive away boredom. Boredom is a good thingProfessor Rosemary Calder
"People have learnt to rely on things to drive away boredom. Boredom is a good thing, it can get us thinking differently and re-fresh the body," Professor Calder said.
"...We used to walk and ride a lot before everything became air-conditioned and cars had beautiful heating. Generations of people rode to school, they got wet but got warm again afterwards.
"We're living in a world where everything has been too convenient."
Professor Calder said additives to junk foods, like sugar and salt, were addictive and this could become harder in isolation when the kitchen was much more accessible.
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