The announcement of the new public health restriction measures on April 30 to curb the recent surge in the transmission of the COVID-19 virus reiterates the need for restrain on social interaction especially in the public domain.
The logic of the measures is keeping with similar practices in other countries such as Barbados, Jamaica, the US and England when spikes occurred. The downside to these measures is a disruption of pre-COVID-19 taken for granted normal social practices and behaviour.
Beaches, malls, gyms, cinemas, restaurants, and casinos have been closed until May 23. These facilities do not only offer specific products and or services but provide a space for social, emotional and psychological connections, reconnections and relaxation.
The number of COVID-19 cases and by extension the behaviour of the population over the next three weeks or thereabout will determine whether these facilities will be allowed to reopen and under what conditions.
For the moment outdoor sporting activities - running, walking, cycling - are permissible.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) moderate to intense aerobic activity such as brisk walking and running can result in several benefits: Improvement in brain health; Weight management; Reducing disease; Strengthening of bones and muscles; Reduction of mental stress.
Physical inactivity among the adolescent population should not be taken likely by parents/guardians. Physical inactivity is compounded by poor eating habits - heavy consumption of sugar-based and fast foods - and sedentary lifestyles.
If allowed to develop unchecked, the already existing problems of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity among the older population can become an alarming concern among the younger population.
The costs to society will not only be in terms of health but also economically with regards to forgone productive expenditure. Eating unhealthily may increase during a period of heightened public health restrictions as a means of compensation for social separation and associated emotional and psychological stress.
However, all is not lost as participation in activities such as walking, running, and cycling still offer great opportunities for achieving the multi-faceted benefits of physical activity. For instance, persons can make walking and running competitive, by registering for any of several virtual events and or engage in non-competitive family fun activities such as kite flying and biking.
At the end of the day, the onus is on parents/guardians, sports clubs and social groups to engage creatively in physical activity despite the current pandemic. Failure to do so may result in mounting undesirable physical, social and mental issues.