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How to safely ‘socialize’ while getting active

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By Scott Printz, Affiliated Kinesiologist 

Along with the well-documented benefits of an active lifestyle, it is important to consider the impact of combining socialization with activity.

Physical activity can positively impact multiple health domains, not just physical. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), regular physical activity can have a positive impact on one’s psychological health in terms of reducing anxiety and depression.

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Along with the well-documented benefits of an active lifestyle, it is important to consider the impact of combining socialization with activity.

 

Physical activity can positively impact multiple health domains, not just physical. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), regular physical activity can have a positive impact on one’s psychological health in terms of reducing anxiety and depression. Connecting with others in a gym or group exercise class can help reduce loneliness (More mental fitness tips here)

 

Dale (a regular at his local leisure centre) suggests that “people socialize more in a program where they can attend 2-3x per week where there is consistency among the participants attending." He adds that a good instructor can help initiate that socialization.

 

Larry (another regular) has built upon his workout relationships in terms of extending this to coffee shop outings (on hold now due to the pandemic) with his workout buddies – something he would not normally have done if not for meeting new friends while exercising. 

 

Marg Petty, a Recreation Therapist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), who specializes in exercise and mental health, describes an improved mood that comes with socialization and physical activity in that one is “not isolating and thinking about life’s stressors” and adds that having a bigger support network builds “social capital” [group of relationships] for overall better mental health. Working out [exercising] with friends will help increase motivation and compliance [help you stick to a regular physical activity routine]. Everything Petty does for her clients is done through a “social lens”, as this gives the most “bang for your buck”. With [through] social interaction, you can problem solve life’s issues and share life’s joys! 

 

What if you can’t access your favorite recreation facility? Fortunately, socialization can go beyond the gym setting. Restrictions on indoor activities due to the pandemic provide an opportunity to seek the great outdoors in winter and summer. Participating in physical activities like cross-country skiing and pole walking are great ways of staying socially active, while being safely distanced. Walking (with friends and/or your dog) can help you get to know the people in your neighbourhood.

 

Zoom and other virtual meeting formats have provided socially friendly alternatives to in-person exercise and are likely here to stay, but they are not replacements for in-person interaction. However, in lieu of restrictions, one can join online exercise classes and check in with others in their social group to help keep each other accountable.  

 

Petty suggests that technology has made people aware of how important human contact is. Eventually, the restrictions brought on by the pandemic will be lifted and Larry can resume his coffee shop outings.

 

People will continue to “Get Together and Get Active”.

 

The human body is made to move, and human nature is to interact. Seek the assistance of a Kinesiologist, a university-educated human movement specialist who uses science and research along with a hands-on, personalized approach to offer movement as medicine to any Canadian with a health or fitness goal. Find a Kinesiologist near you. 

Activité physiqueKinesiologistkinésiologueMental HealthPhysical activitySanté mentale
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