Running tracks, gyms and swimming pools may be closed, as part of government-imposed lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is more important than ever to remain physically active. This is the message on this year’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
With more and more people stuck indoors for most of the day, it can be a struggle to remain physically and mentally healthy. However, the UN health agency (WHO) insists that it is more important than ever, and is achievable, even in small spaces, and without any equipment.
There is also a wide range of free and accessible online tools, such as videos and fitness apps, giving tips on working out from home, and other ways to stay healthy.
WHO is recommending that all healthy adults do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, and children at least an hour a day. To support the international day, the health agency’s #BeActive campaign is encouraging people to try at least one of the following ways to get fit at home: online exercises classes, dancing, playing active video games, jumping rope, or practicing muscle strength and balance training.
Even elite athletes are having to cope with being stuck indoors. Brad Snyder, a gold-medal winning Paralympian in the blind swimming category, has had to contend with both the closure of swimming pools, and the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to next year.
Brad was blinded whilst on active service with the US Navy in Afghanistan, when he triggered an improvised explosive device, just a year before he competed in the London Paralympics.
In this exclusive interview, you can hear how Brad and his fellow Olympians are adjusting, and his message for anyone on lockdown, whether they are able-boded or living with disability,
Sport as a force for social inclusion
The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has also been raising awareness of the power of sport as an equalizer for social inclusion, bringing together people from diverse cultures, religions, and ethnicities, and as a tool for preventing violent extremism conducive to terrorism.
In a statement released on Monday, the UNAOC noted the launch of a Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events, and Promotion of Sport and its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism.
To demonstrate the power of sports as a tool for diversity and inclusiveness, UNAOC has also initiated new partnerships with renowned soccer clubs and sports entities. The organization’s latest project, “Beach Soccer,” promotes this tool by embracing the “One Humanity” notion that UNAOC strives to achieve.
Giving the virus a red card
FIFA, the world football body, has joined forces with WHO on the campaign, enlisting some of the world’s biggest clubs, such as Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid, to ask fans to set aside their rivalries and come together to be active, and beat the virus.
“We are delighted that football is strongly supporting the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by asking everyone to be active and to remain healthy at home during this difficult time”, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said in a statement. “FIFA has asked the football community, to show their support, and a new solidarity, so we can overcome the coronavirus. This is an important lesson not only for today, but for every day.”
As part of the campaign, world-famous players share the following message: “At this time, even rivals need to stick together. We have to keep our distance, but we do not l
ose our focus. We can show solidarity by being active, and active means following the guidelines from the WHO.