I have always loved to play outside.
As a kid, no matter what the season, I preferred to be out tobogganing, building forts, playing kick-the-can or hide-and-seek, learning to ride a bike, jumping in a lake or climbing a tree. They were (and still are) all fun activities for me.
When I became a parent, I passed the love of the outdoors and playing onto my children.
While there are no guarantees in life, the best way to keep healthy, strong and boost your immune system is physical activity.
Unfortunately, when I became a personal trainer and health coach, a troubling trend was emerging.
Inactivity was on the rise globally.
People were sitting more and moving less, which causes massive health issues like heart disease, stroke, lung disease, certain types of cancers, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.
And in my own country, Canadain adults continue to get failing grades in their physical activity report card year after year.
There seem to be so many strict “rules” around exercise that it is having the opposite effect on people.
Rather than inspiring people to keep active for their physical and mental health, with slogans such as “no pain, no gain,” or images of “fit” bodies being unrealistic, getting and keeping in shape is turning people off.
People have lost the joy and fun in moving their bodies for even the minimum amount of time – 20 minutes a day.
Inactivity is a global crisis of its own.
This news fuelled my mission, even more, to re-ignite people’s passion for play so that they could fight chronic disease while improving their quality of life.
I wrote a book about it, developed a free healthy habits course and created an online coaching program to help as many people as possible.
With more data coming to the surface as global public health agencies navigate through the Covid-19 crisis, it is clear that particular lifestyle habits (smoking, obesity and physical inactivity) increase the risk of being hospitalized.
In England, a long-term cohort study involving data of 387,109 people, published in the journal “Brain, Behavior and Immunity” found the likelihood of COVID hospitalization was 32% higher in those who were physically inactive.
“Our findings suggest that an unhealthy lifestyle synonymous with an elevated risk of non-communicable disease is also a risk factor for COVID-19 hospital admission, which might be partly explained by low-grade inflammation. Adopting simple lifestyle changes could lower the risk of severe infection.” *
Here is the silver lining, though! People are starting to play more.
I’ve read that bike sales are exploding. A headline I saw recently read: “Coronavirus: Canada is running out of bicycles as more people take to the road.”
While it certainly helps that the weather is starting to get more beautiful so getting outside is more natural, having an excuse to leave the confines of your house for some fresh air by foot or bike is a great escape.
When I’m outside running or biking, I have noticed way more people out than ever before, walking, playing in the parks, trying to find joy and connection in a time of crisis.
Yes, people are working from home and commuting less, which is a bonus.
However, many people don’t even realize that all movement matters, and getting active is like getting free insurance for your health.
You don’t need a gym!
I am inspired more than ever, and I hope this trend continues well past 2020.
Maybe this health crisis is just what the Doctor ordered to help people care more about their health.
I hope for most, though, that you can rekindle your love of playing too.