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  • Writer's pictureDavid Thibodeau

SDG #3 Good Health & Well-being

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought it was timely to explore how sports can be used for SDG #3 Good Health and Well-Being. This may be one of the easier Sustainable Development Goals to connect sports too. This goal is all about ensuring healthy lives and promoting physical and mental well-being for everyone, at all ages. Sports and recreation has a direct connection with living active, healthy lives and personal well-being.

Sports encourage everyone of all ages to adopt more active lifestyles, it has positive impacts on children and healthy development and personal well-being. Being physically active improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and helps protect against a variety of diseases. Participation in sports and recreation contributes to tackling and preventing obesity levels which are rising all around the world.

More directly it may even help boosts the immune system. It may help increase good circulation, which allows white blood cells to move throughout the body more freely and fight off bacteria. However, it is important to note that some research shows that exercising too much can hurt your immune system by not giving your body enough rest (this is similar to if you would be working at the office long hours and not giving yourself time to rest).

Being involved in sports also encourages people to eat healthier. When you are working towards a goal, you want to make sure you are doing everything that you can do to achieve it. Eating healthier has a direct impact on a person’s personal well-being.

Being involved in a sport programme improves sleep habits. They can help you by falling asleep easier, and help fall into a deeper sleep.

Besides physical well-being, sports also has many benefits to our mental health by delivering social, psychological and physiological benefits. Being physically active releases endorphins and helps reduce stress. Being physically active can help leave you feeling more relaxed and optimistic after a workout. Also being connected with other people and being social can also help increase mental health, and sports are a great way to connect with people!

Everyone’s health can benefit from more physical activity. Increasing physical activity will also have the unintended side effect of driving down health care costs. If people are healthier they will not be going to the hospital with as many issues. This will help countries run universal health care programs by making them more affordable for them to run. Health policy can prioritize sport and recreation as a means to creating a healthier population.

Government’s and sport organisations can use sport as a tool to help achieve good health and well being by incorporating sport into all policy decisions. When governments give out funding for infrastructure, attach some strings to it by making some of the money go towards active transportation. Making segregated bike lanes can help increase the likelihood of people using their bike to get to work. I know that myself and a lot of my close friends do not like biking in the city because it is dangerous when there are no segregated bike lanes.

In Canada this can be seen as an inter-departmental approach, Health Canada, Infrastructure Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada can all champion bike lanes, for the health benefits, making our roads safer for cyclists, lowering air pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing traffic on the roads. By lowering air pollution, we also reduce the risk of respiratory health problems. Getting active has so many direct and indirect positives!

During this time, it is important to stay active in any way that you can. As I am writing this, sport events from the highest international competitions to the community level are being cancelled. The masters swimming group that I coach, and the youth team I coach are both being affected. This time can be very stressful and trying to stay active, doing yoga in your living room, going outside for a walk if you are able to, or finding workouts on youtube to do at home, can help you manage this stress.

Everything in our lives has been disrupted. From our jobs to our social lives. We are all adapting to what seemed like an overnight change, from business as usual to not being able to leave our homes. Our desire to get outside may be even stronger due to the fact that in Canada, we just finished winter. We have all been inside our houses for three months already, and with the weather getting nicer out, cabin fever is really starting to kick in. Trying to stay active in our homes is one way to help mitigate this. Trying to have a consistent workout routine at home will help us adapt to our social isolation for the coming weeks (and possibly months) ahead.

Here are some apps and online services that can help keep up physical activity and mental health:

The Fabulous - help build a routine to keep you on track during social isolation

Headspace - an app to help build mindfulness

Down Dog - a yoga app

Homenauts - list of free resources offered by companies, media outlets and individuals to help you cope with the time at home

Wysa - mental health support

P.E. teacher for the world Home workouts without any equipment

German basket club creates series of videos for youth – exercises and drills which can done at home


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