Was this weekend the most physically active two days in the history of the Province?
Brian Torrance, Edmonton Sport Council Chairperson
Two quick disclaimers:
- I really have no data to back up the title of this blog. Its always hard to get population data on physical activity……so I will stand by the bold title
- I know there is debate around self-isolation guidelines and should one go outside and I defer to the Government of Alberta as to physical distancing in outdoor settings and also a position statement by the Outdoor Play Canada.
For me, it’s important to dig at a few reasons why people went to parks, walked within their communities, went for a run and/or, are being “challenged” by their friends and family to physical activity pursuits.
Our leaders encouraged us. Wow….and awesome! It is rare for our political leaders to voice the importance of physical activity in our daily lives. I get it that at times political leaders have other messages to move through, but a message of wellbeing is essential and everyone needs to speak of its importance more often!
Physical activity and overall wellbeing needs a higher value in our communities, province and country. Having our leaders speaking to the importance of being physical activity was terrific leadership and the voice that we need at this time.
Besides the current COVID pandemic we very much have a health care crisis going on in Canada and we do need all levels of government to do a better job of keeping people healthy. As my friend Dean Kriellaars would say, “we value our health care but we don’t value our health.”
So at a time when people are feeling the stress of COVID-19 and living in uncertainty, it was great to see the messaging and encouragement of our health and political leaders. I have listed a few examples below. This is leadership!
The amazing Dr Hinshaw.
Great work Premier.
From Alberta's Minister responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation.
Councillor Knack on YEG's Live Active strategy.
We need nature. At this time, more than ever, we are seeing the medicinal and calming power of nature. Lucky for us, nature does not close. It’s also nice to have less traffic and city noise within our communities. Enjoy the peacefulness! Here is a great resource by the Alberta Recreation Parks Association to help children and families connect with nature.
Reason #3 The usual suspects. I think of all the reasons why we usually increase our physical activity levels were also at play last weekend.
- We need joy. Physical activity supports our overall wellbeing, and people want to feel good, they want to feel accomplishment. Physical activity is directly related to our mental health, which is most important at times of increased stress.
- Seasonality. Quite often at this time of year, people do move to be outside and active with the warm weather and coming out of our long winter. We very much embraced the warmer weather and wanted to be outside.
- Social support (and there was lots also on social media). Physical activity is easier when its encouraged and recognized by friends.
- Environment. Alberta has the space and beauty that people want to be outdoors. Speaking from an Edmonton perspective, our River Valley is very much the pulse and centrepiece of Edmonton. Edmontonians naturally gravitate to it. But environment can also be barrier because of transportation, and accessibility barriers. As a result, many can’t easily access our natural healthy environments.
While there may be more reasons as to why Alberta had it’s most physically active two days in history, but the above is a great start.
Hopefully today’s COVID 19 challenges will bring more attention and value to overall wellbeing. I hope it does, and that our recovery includes a voice and investment into sport, physical activity, recreation, and other health promotion initiatives which will make our communities and citizens healthier in the long run.