Lee poses with boxing equipment at the gym
December 2022

Getting physical helps hauora during COVID-19

Many whānau are super pumped to get into more physical activity after the COVID-19 restrictions we’ve had over the past two years. And the benefits of physical activity extend far beyond physical fitness.

The taiaha, a traditional Māori weapon featured in the video on our home page, is used to help with personal health and fitness, as well as speaking te reo Māori, learning vital mātauranga around our atua, and giving us the tools necessary to self-regulate and improve our mental health.

Boxing can have hugely positive impacts on our hauora and fitness, as Lee Tepuia discovered. Lee set up the Box on Boxing gym in 2020 right as the pandemic hit. Being in peak physical shape helped him cope with the mental strain COVID-19 brought on both himself and his partner. “Being active helps us to switch off from the outside world and be present in the moment, which is really important to stay focussed,” says Lee.

Lee has suffered from bouts of depression since he was young, and later discovered the wellbeing benefits of boxing. Now boxing helps not only himself, but the whānau who come to his gym. “Being at the gym can help give you a fresh perspective to better deal with problems, or things that can sometimes weigh us down,” Lee said. 

“Boxing is not unlike our traditional mau rākau, which is not only about combat but also mastering the skills of timing, balance and hand-eye coordination… it connects us to each other so we can support one another through life’s ups and downs.”

If you have been unwell with COVID-19 and have not been exercising or even moving around much, it’s important not to jump straight into physical activity because your muscles can get weak. When you start exercising again your symptoms can get worse, or you can get very tired even after a small amount of activity. 

This is known as post-exertional malaise (PEM) and is an important part of recovery after COVID-19. PEM can happen hours or days after physical or mental exertion. Recovery usually takes 24 hours. You can find more information about returning to physical activity after COVID-19 on the Health Navigator website.

Health Navigator

Watch the video about Lee Tepuia and Box On Boxing.

Getting physical to get through COVID-19

Read a story about support for tāngata whaiora with depression.

Returning to Tihei-wa Mauri Ora