For months, terms like pandemic, red zone, and quarantine have been haunting our daily lives, giving us the unfortunate impression to lose control over ourselves and our surroundings. More so, many health professional associations have been openly discussing the consequences of a decrease in physical activity, like depression, anxiety, and dropping out, as well as the loss of control of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Faced with all the consequences observed during consultations of patients in recent weeks and months, members of the Association québécoise des médecins du sport et de l’exercice (AQMSE) (Quebec Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine) believe there is an urgent need for action. Fortunately, all agree on a common solution to those problems: exercise.
As physical activity does not necessarily imply competition and contact sports, we believe that each and everyone, no matter the age, can take back control today and increase their level of exercise. After all, Quebecers are renowned for their innovation and adaptation abilities! Quebecers can reevaluate how to be active, while respecting the current health standards. This is what we believe, as sport and exercise physicians. There is no shortage of ideas, whether for families, telecommuting professionals, seniors, or young athletes. Here are some suggestions to allow you to be active.
- Organize a day of activities that were popular when parents or grandparents were young: jump-rope, hula-hoop, hopscotch, elastic-skipping, ball games (dodgeball, four-square, etc.).
- Participate in a one-on-one basketball or soccer tournament to win a free pass on dish-duty.
- Create a lively playlist to improve the spirits during the weekly house cleaning.
- Subscribe to online yoga or zumba classes for the rainy days.
- Discover together new, nearby hiking trails, and take the opportunity to enjoy geocaching activities.
- Gain back precious minutes usually lost on transportation by walking the children to and from school, or go jogging or power walking in the neighbourhood before or after a telecommuting session.
- Invite collegues during a videconference to take short breaks each hour to stretch, move, or go outside a few minutes for fresh air.
- Walk around the room during conferences for which webcam usage is not required.
- Park the car away from store entrances when shopping.
- Avoid escalators and elevators to use the stairs instead.
- Use walking sticks to carry out outings, no matter the weather, or lug soles for the coming winter. The outdoors remains a very safe activity during the pandemic!
- Enroll in the fall prevention program STAND UP! of the various CLSCs or in balance, stretching and strengthening exercise sessions.
- Listen to music in the residence’s common areas to show your best moves and socialize at a safe distance.
- Adopt a pet as a way to motivate oneself to go on walks.
- Call the family and loved ones during exercise sessions to motivate each other.
- Buy a stationary bike or and an exercise peddler to be active daily.
- Athletes and Student Athletes
- Develop specific individual skills, or discover other authorized sports to develop skills related to your own discipline: yoga classes to increase flexibility, cardiovascular activities to increase future performance, meditation to improve concentration, etc.
- Book sport courts to keep in touch with your sport and put into practice assignments given to you by your coach, such as free throws in basketball, goal shots in hockey, or ball control in soccer. Information on which establishments remain open are available on town and school websites.
- Challenge your teammates, coach, or even your team physician, from a distance to keep your competitive spirit sharp.
Several Quebec organizations and foundations already offer many solutions to motivate us and encourage our loved ones to exercise. Whether it is the various tools implemented by the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie the FitSpirit programs, the Ça marche Doc urban walking program, the activities offered by the Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Foundation, the Active for Life initiative, or the resources from ParticipACTION, we are all encouraged to be active, and dispose of all the tools we need to do so!
We also encourage municipal organizations to follow suit by developing activities that make use of existing public spaces and respect social distancing, such as observation or geocaching challenges, night hiking activities on torch-lit trails, and promotion of walking clubs. Many companies also offer a rental or sale service for bicycle or cross-country skiing, skating and snowshoeing equipment at low prices. So many activities can be practiced in complete safety and can help us discover our environment, summer like winter!
Through this intervention, the AQMSE wishes to reach out to the main actors regarding the health of Quebecers: themselves and their families. The health measures applied can (and especially must) be combined with a variety of activities that allow young and old to get moving. The context of the current pandemic is difficult for everyone, and there is certainly no perfect solution at the moment. We must no longer wait for a return to normal life, but rather find creative ways to take back control of your health today!