You just have to look out the window, in the press or on social networks: we have never seen so many people practicing sport as since confinement was imposed.
Between the neighboring family who goes out twice a day for a stroller-roller-scooter-scooter ride in the neighborhood, the neighbor who is fond of cycling who spends his time on his mount as soon as the first rays of sun appear, the young couple who discover each other suddenly a passion for running, or even the neighbor who follows on her big screen, full music, the last virtual body training course led by her favorite coach, there are plenty of examples. Confined to us, social networks are inevitably more of our favorite hobbies than usual. Everyone is having fun: between the “Covid-19 challenges” which flood our news feeds with physical exploits… and with toilet paper, the parents who proudly share their incredible motor skills courses made with love for their children. toddlers, selfies in a full effort “# fightcovid19”, there is really something to feel guilty about staying calmly at home waiting for the crisis to pass … But wouldn’t all of this just be the result of an exceptional combination of circumstances? Do we not turn a blind eye to the gleaming and illusory tip of the iceberg?
This unique experience, in vivo and without prior clinical trials, puts a strain on our habits to the point of greatly altering our quest for the holy grail of all: to live happily, by fully embracing our fundamental psychological needs. Why talk about these needs? Because it is these who push us to action and speaking of sport, which will motivate us to put on our sneakers or to stay comfortably on our sofa. There is of course only one theory of motivation. Let us try to explain what is happening during this crisis through one of them, the self-determination theory. During our existence, and this is true in the field of sport, we are driven to action by three great psychological needs that will contribute to our well-being:
- The need for autonomy: it is the need to feel at the origin or at the source of one’s actions. In a period of confinement, there is already one that is undermined! No more doing what you want. What is the footballer who used to go and play with his friends on the neighboring pitch now doing? What does the grandmother do, whose Sunday routine was to swim her 25 lengths in the public pool? What does the private riding enthusiast do with their outings? Could this decline in our level of autonomy be at the root of the observed behaviors that come close to or even exceed the restrictions imposed by our authorities? Frustration with this need can undoubtedly lead to a search for freedom that has never been explored before.
- The need for competence: it reflects our desire to feel efficient, useful in relation to our environment. A craftsman who’s know-how is recognized by all, a teacher who transmits his knowledge to his students, a retiree who shares his experience on a voluntary basis in an association, a young sportsman who proudly shows his parents the technical gesture he has just learned. ‘learn in his club. Once again, satisfying this universal need implies a temporary adaptation of our behavior, within the limits of what is authorized. The “home” motor skills course allows the child to express his competence to his parents, in the absence of the usual bonuses from the teacher or trainer. The 20 minutes of running without stopping or the sequence of ab-glutes performed in their entirety can also bring us this source of personal satisfaction, especially if a certain number of thumbs up virtually enhance our action.
- The need for social belonging: Everyone aspires to be affiliated with a more or less extensive network of people important to them. This need to feel connected and supported by other people, we have each fulfilled in our own way. Family, friends, colleagues; a whole mesh distended by an unprecedented physical distance. It is undoubtedly in the pursuit of this need that we share more than reason the least of our activities on social networks; at least the activities that we will consider socially acceptable and rewarding. The running/cycling selfie or the “Covid-19-challenge” video in juggling or wrapping mode with toilet paper is part of this. But since we only share what we want to share, what about the rest? Admit that the selfie sitting on the sofa circulates much less on the networks… We are addressing here one of the cruces of the problem.
What if those who set themselves in motion regularly were, like the tip of the iceberg, under a magnifying mirror? What about the others? Of all those who, voluntarily or not, is no longer able to move sufficiently?
Inequalities in physical activity
We are not all equal when it comes to sport and physical activity. The current situation could tend to accentuate these inequalities. Parents confined full-time to an apartment with their children, the self-employed who urgently need to renew themselves in order to hope to keep their activity going, the hospital staff who give themselves body and soul to save the lives of others, or finally all those who have not yet established the practice of physical activity in their habits and who need external support to persevere: we will all live a before and after Covid-19. It is legitimate for our eyes to be primarily focused on security needs, as explained Maslow in his famous pyramid of needs. During and after this health crisis (we hope so soon), physical activity should, however, as far as possible and with all the necessary precautions, be part of our daily lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the lack of physical activity is considered the fourth risk factor for death in the world and is considered one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease or cancer, occupying the first two places of this disastrous podium. Before confinement, p ally one in three people worldwide was not active enough to maintain good health. So yes, this observation is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Especially since the Covid-19 waited for the return of sunny days to knock on the door of our regions; because as for the barbecue season, it is clearly established that we move more in spring or summer than in winter.
Preserve your movement capital
Preserving its movement capital during confinement is therefore in a way preserve your health and immune capital, so precious at the present time. WHO also officially addresses, beyond official recommendations, some practical advice (even in quarantine) to help us stay active in confinement. There is no shortage of examples of activities, the main thing is to choose them according to your tastes and motivations while respecting the expert recommendations. To conclude, let’s go back to our iceberg… of physical activity. Even if this is not visible to everyone, its melting is beautiful and very real during this period of confinement. Perhaps we don’t get so attached to its emergent part, augmented by the magnifying mirror of social media and our heightened observation of the “visible”. Let us rather pay attention to its submerged portion, much larger and silent, represented by all those who have put aside the movement of their daily life. Every minute in motion is a minute of struggle against a sedentary lifestyle. Taking the stairs, getting up regularly from your sofa, making a call while walking rather than sitting down, taking up the challenge that motivates you, gardening, tinkering, dancing: these simple gestures are the first step towards a moving body. The first few minutes are the ones that bring the most health benefits. Everyone can, therefore, in view of their possibilities, needs, and motivations, integrate a minimum of physical activity into their daily life. It is in this awareness of the importance of the movement that the entire iceberg will be able to move serenely and in solidarity towards its next destination. Alexandre Mouton, Lecturer in Motricity Sciences, university of Liege This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.