As new cases of COVID-19 continue to emerge around the world, many people are invited to confine themselves to their homes currently. In some countries, gyms and other places where physical activity is normally practiced have been closed for several long weeks, which can prove problematic for the practice of regular physical activity. However, sedentary behavior combined with low level of physical activity can have negative effects on health, well-being, and quality of life, knowing that periods of confinement are likely to cause additional stress on the mental health of citizens.
Last November, the World Health Organization (WHO) insisted on the importance of sport in the midst of an epidemic. Now the alert is again topical with this column published this weekend in the Sunday Newspaper (JDD) by the collective “For a healthy France” composed of experts from the world of sport, health and the media. Its members (the ex-minister Valérie Fourneyron, the ex-rugby player Marc Lièvremont …) evoke a single slogan: “The thirty minutes of physical activity per day, it is now for everyone’s health and for the common good. The latter also recall that its practice during the pandemic, by respecting barrier gestures, is without risk.
Why is physical activity essential?
The authors of this forum are concerned that the health crisis and the living conditions it imposes do not worsen an already alarming situation in this area: reduction in physical activity and increased sedentary lifestyle affect the vast majority of the population. “The four months of confinement resulted in a weight gain and a major decrease in the cognitive (by almost 40%!) and physical (20%) capacities of children in CE2 ”, they underline. “Patients enrolled in prescription sports programs struggle to resume their activities. “The precautionary principle and the precautionary reflex, disseminated and applied to excess, inhibit the entire population. ”
What is risky is not to move. According to latest WHO estimates dating back to last November, it would be possible to prevent up to 5 million deaths per year if the world population was more active. The body says that everyone, regardless of age and ability, can participate in physical activity and that all types of movement are important. Regular physical activity is indeed essential to prevent and better manage heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as to reduce cognitive decline, improve memory and boost brain health.
“A formidable shield while waiting for the vaccine”
This is without taking into account the fact that physical activity helps the body to defend itself against the threat posed by COVID-19, as the collective explains in this forum. “Its benefits on the immune, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as well as its preventive impact on the effects of aging, the main factors risk of severity of Covid-19, are proven. It is, especially in exposure to natural light, a formidable shield while waiting for the vaccine. These experts insist that anyone can take thirty minutes a day to move: get out of your chair, climb the stairs, get off public transport one stop earlier, walk, run, cycle, garden …
Children, in particular, should adopt this good habit from an early age to keep it throughout their lives, which is why they end their forum by welcoming the initiative of the Ministry of National Education. With the help of Paris 2024, the latter is launching the 30-minute daily APS (physical and sporting activities) campaign in primary school on the occasion of Olympic and Paralympic week which begins on February 1. “Being active is as essential as knowing how to read, write and count. Movement is our salvation », They conclude. Note that this publication comes a few days after the one an open letter to the executive by 72 senators.
In this letter, the elected officials ask for “an exemption from the curfew after 6 p.m. for the practice of a individual outdoor physical activity and without regrouping for all French people. “” The new organizational methods of our social life and the reduction of our trips reinforce the sedentary lifestyle of the French, already recognized as a real scourge of public health. (…) During the previous confinements and curfews, it has always been possible for the French to practice outdoor physical activity, ”they recall. Another letter addressed to the Minister of Sports requests an exemption for people benefiting from a prescription for appropriate physical activity.