As the threat of COVID-19 begins to diminish, we are all getting excited to resume our previous activities and get on with our new normal. Social interaction has never felt so vital.

For many, especially those living alone, social distancing during the pandemic has led to isolation and increased loneliness. According to the CDC, loneliness can have a profound effect on health, increasing risk for heart disease and stroke, and is associated with an increase in depression and anxiety[1]. Taking stock, making plans, and setting goals for post-COVID life can be inspiring and help to maintain hope and optimism for the future despite feelings of pandemic fatigue.

Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health. It reduces risk for disease, improves mental health, strengthens muscles, and bones, and improves your ability to do daily activities. One way to help make physical activity a priority is to find an activity you enjoy and people you enjoy doing it with. If you want to become more active you can harness the energy of others, even those you don’t know. Sharing goals with like minded folks who have similar plans can help you keep coming back for more.

The pandemic has offered time to reflect on personal and social values and has given the “stronger together” mantra a little more weight. I think it is safe to say we value our human interactions in ways we had not previously considered. A strong community with shared values, interests and goals may be the right place to begin or continue your wellness journey. Your gateway to active living may be just down the street!

During COVID, community recreation centres have been working with local health authorities to reduce risks and help keep us safe as we slowly discover our new normal. They also offer affordable opportunities to share similar interests, activities and values that help to strengthen understanding and enrich relationships within the community.

Municipalities in British Columbia are experts at offering recreation programming specific to their unique communities. Seeing yourself reflected in the programming and classes also helps to support interest and attendance. Community centres also provide multiple program modalities with options like ballroom dancing, pickleball, martial arts, community gardens and more.

If you are looking for a fitness-specific experience you can find an enthusiastic BCRPA registered group fitness leader or personal trainer to demonstrate best practice and safely guide your experience with bootcamps, indoor cycling, group fitness, and one to one training.

No matter what draws you to become more active, it is the experience you have while doing it that will help you return again and again.

We all know trying new activities and meeting new people can be daunting. Fortunately community recreation centres offer opportunities for neighbourly networking, community building, and a place to make new friends. They are experts at inclusion and diversity and provide exposure to other recreation opportunities, multi cultural events, and intergenerational groupings which generate discussion, foster greater understanding, and encourage generosity and tolerance.

Consider connecting with your local community recreation centre today. You will be contributing to your community’s strength and resilience simply by participating, as well as improving your own health and well-being. It’s a win-win!

[1] Center for Disease Control. 2020. Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html

About the Author:

Persuasive and encouraging, Kate Lee is a BCRPA Registered Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Leader, and Supervisor of Fitness Leaders. In 2014 she was awarded BCRPA’s Fitness Leader of the Year. Working with the Vancouver Parks Board and Community Centres since 1985, Kate understands the vital role community can play in supporting and encouraging health and wellness. As the coordinator for Vancouver Park Board's All-Bodies Community Fitness Group, she promotes a culture of respect, inclusion, acceptance and belonging with the understanding that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the personal and meaningful benefits of an active lifestyle. You can reach Kate by email or visit ABC Fit's Facebook page.

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