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  • 06.04.20
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TIME SENSITIVE- World Day for Physical Activity Virtual Walking and Physical Activity in the time of the coronavirus pandemic - By Vicki Lambert

Dear colleagues,

You have been copied in to this important and timely email for one of several reasons. You may be part of a collaboration, network, or partnership group involved in or engaged in physical activity for health, primarily in Africa, or in LMIC settings. You may also represent another group or network, whose agenda is aligned to physical activity and health in this region (for example, urban health, open streets, exercise is medicine). Finally, you may represent academic institutions within, primarily, the African region, and your work or that of your institution is aligned to physical activity and health.

The primary focus of this email is to ask for your assistance in disseminating the importance of physical activity, even and especially during this global coronavirus pandemic, to your networks, students, colleagues, and practitioners and policy makers. You will see several attachments and then some important links.

1. World Day for Physical Activity Virtual Walking

Agita Mundo is a global social mobilisation campaign and an independent council of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health. Every year, Agita Mundo inspires persons from all over the world to engage in physical activity on the 6th April, World Day for Physical Activity. Persons and organisations are asked to register their activations on the Agita website portal. This year is different in that Agita Mundo is encouraging people to exercise at home, and to take a short video of their activity, to continue to motivate, engage and highlight that “every step counts".

2. The World Health Organization

Has provided helpful guidance for physical activity and health during this pandemic, and in fact, has emphasised the importance of remaining physically active, for both physical and mental well-being. The WHO link for questions and answers related to this guidance can be found at https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/be-active-during-covid-19 , and a social media campaign involving various soccer stars and FIFA will be launched. Keep an eye on Twitter for #heathyathome and #BeActive for futher developments. I have also attached 7 very useful WHO infographics for physical activity guidance during the pandemic.

3. American College of Sports Medicine / Exercise is Medicine

There is a good link from the American College of Sports Medicine/ Exercise is Medicine on physical activity during COVID-19,(download) and I have attached a copy of a recent article from The Conversation on “How to stay fit and active at home during the coronavirus self-isolation” . Another useful link is a lecture for medical students on Physical Activity, Immunity, Inflammation and COVID-19 by Prof. James Sallis, from the University of San Diego https://youtu.be/F4mcbi9tD-M .

Finally, it is important for health professionals, policy makers and others, as well as the general public, to understand the importance of physical activity during this time, as it can boost immune function, reduce the risk of co-morbid conditions which place infected individuals at greater risk, and help to manage the stress experienced by many due to family concerns, economic stresses, job loss, and other related concerns.

It is also important that this information be presented in an understandable and context-relevant manner. In this regard, I will be inviting persons from the AFRO region to contribute to the formation of messages concerning physical activity and health during the corona virus, relevant to our challenges, for example, in relation to housing, poverty, culture, and health systems. If you would be interested in contributing to this activity, please contact me by return of email.

In the meantime, please disseminate widely; please post your virtual walking activity on the Agita portal; please share the links or whatever else you may find useful with your networks and colleagues, and please stay safe and be well.

With thanks and best wishes,

Estelle (Vicki) Lambert

Director | Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport Research Centre (HPALS)Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM), FIMS International Collaborating Centre of Sports Medicine,Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences | University of Cape Town