Whitehorse Daily Star

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REMAINING ACTIVE – Melanie Tait, the physical literacy co-ordinator for Sport Yukon and founder of Habit Health and Wellness, goes for a ski. In the time of COVID-19, Tait spoke to the importance of remaining active while following safe practices. Photo submitted by Melanie Tait

Remaining active during the COVID-19 pandemic

On Sunday evening, the territory’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, reported that two cases of COVID-19 are in the Yukon.

By Whitehorse Star on March 24, 2020

On Sunday evening, the territory’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, reported that two cases of COVID-19 are in the Yukon.

Along with this announcement, he encouraged people to practise social distancing and self-quarantine if any travel has been done outside the Yukon – whether in Canada or outside the borders.

With non-essential businesses told to close, (gyms, bars, coffee shops, etc…) people are spending more time indoors to help "flatten the curve" of COVID-19.

Just because we are spending more time at home doesn't mean we still can't be physically active.

Melanie Tait, the physical literacy co-ordinator for Sport Yukon and founder of Habit Health and Wellness and Ben McPherson, a strength and conditioning specialist and co-owner of Northern Strength Academy, weighed in on the importance of staying active during this time.

"It's important to remain active," said McPherson. "It's important for mental health as it's a temporary boost from endorphins. There are benefits to moving around."

"Sometimes it can feel like all or nothing," said Tait. "But there are basic simple activities that can be done at home and in nature which benefit mental health and mindfulness."

Tait and McPherson said people can use this time to discover different forms of exercise.

"It can be a challenge at first because people are used to certain equipment or a routine," said Tait. "This is an opportunity to explore other ways of movement."

"It's kind of fun; so many go to the gym but get caught in the tracks," said McPherson. "This is an opportunity to broaden horizons. It feels good to be learning and creating.

"We have to take our positives where we can right now."

Both Tait and McPherson said there are plenty of online resources people can use to help them remain active from home.

"There is lots of stuff accessible on the web," said McPherson.

There are lots of platforms to help you stay active at home," said Tait. "It's about finding what is right for you."

Of importance to many who go to the gym is the social aspect. Tait and McPherson said they are trying to remain connected with clients through social media.

"We are all trying to be creative and connect with clients," said Tait. "We want to make sure they are healthy and are encouraged to stay connected.

"Group fitness is also social so it’s important to make habits and routines early. There is a lot of stress and anxiety right now, and we want to help individuals stay active."

McPherson said muscle development can be done at home by doing calisthenics and bodyweight workouts.

"We are working on delivering that so people understand how," said McPherson. "People have the intention but they might not have the tools. It's about knowing how to move in a confined space.

"We are working with people to help them develop home routines."

On Sunday, Hanley said just because we should be social distancing, it does not mean people can go outside, as long as they do so safely.

"Luckily, in the Yukon, we have the space to go outside and there not be many people around," said Tait. "You can walk, run, fat bike, cross country ski – whatever gets you moving."

"This is an opportunity to reconnect with nature," said McPherson. "Don't forget that we are fortunate to have the wilderness around us. Fresh air is good for mental health."

With schools closed until April 15 at the earliest, Tait said, it's important for parents to help their children stay active at home because they won't be getting the exercise they receive from recess and gym class.

"It's a time to look at resources out there for physical literacy and kids," said Tait.

"It's a change for everyone."

Tait recommended getting creative at home, and gave the example of designing an obstacle course if possible.

As well, she said, it's a time where parents and their kids can be active together.

Tait said it's a time to adapt and create, and it's an interesting opportunity for people in times like this.

"Being mindful and present is important now," said Tait. "Now is the time to practise mindfulness."

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