Ministers Nathi Mthethwa message for National Recreation Day/Big Walk

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02 Oct 2020
This National Recreation Day event today comes at a time when as a country, we are grappling with issues of femicide, rape, gender-based violence and xenophobia and the Global pandemic of COVID-19.
 
Recreation is a significant part of any nation’s culture, leisure time, health, economy and education. Individuals involved in physical activity benefit from a significantly enhanced quality of life. It is against this background that recreation is at the core of our Active Nation programmes.
 
The declaration of Cabinet for the first Friday of October being a National Recreation day provides an opportunity to showcase and promote a number of active recreation activities South Africans can undertake for their health and wellbeing and encourage all South Africans to be physically active.
 
Since 2015 the National Recreation day has been observed across the country led by all Sport and Recreation Provincial Departments and the National Department. In 2017, we saw it necessary to also initiate a 365 days campaign, the “I Choose 2 B Active” campaign which is a call to action to get as many South African’s to be physically active, which the National Recreation Day is a highlight of.
 
The hard lockdown on account of COVID -19 in March meant the citizens could not participate outdoors in any physical activity. This year our National Recreation Day programme had to consider the pandemic we are experiencing and ensure it adheres to the COVID-19 protocols.
 
Initially, these COVID-19-related closures and restrictions undoubtedly disrupted daily
routines, arrangements, and rhythms of individual and family lives.
 
During lockdown level 4 citizens were permitted to cycle, run and walk within their
neighbourhood, within a 5km of their home between 6:00 – 9:00. This was amended in Level
3 to extend the hours from 06:00-18:00 with strict health protocols of social distancing and wearing of masks.
 
We want to applaud the citizens who exercised innovation, who continued to and used all the virtual and social media platforms to exercise in their homes and also encourage others to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle during this difficult time.
 
As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic has also negatively impacted mental health globally
Contributing issues include social isolation, travel bans, border closures, concerns about personal or familial health, financial constraints, job loss, and interruptions to education.
 
Importantly, the impact of these issues is extensive and far-reaching, and have left many citizens, feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, scared, and bored during these unprecedented times.
 
Though social interactions and activities might look different right now, citizens should actively look for safe ways to engage in health promoting activities—physical activity is one such activity.
 
Physical activity and active recreation must become a lifestyle to the majority of South
Africans. Invest in your health and be physically active, Exercise regularly. It is not difficult to build physical activity into your daily life…at work, school, home, play…If you can and not already doing it, walk to work, or cycle to work.
 
Walking just 30 minutes a day every day can increase cardio-vascular fitness, strengthen
bones, reduce excess body fat and boost muscular power and endurance.
 
One needs to only look at our elders who for most of their lives walked long distances to get to work, to attend social gatherings, to gather the harvest, tend to cattle to realise the benefits of physical activity. They rarely faced debilitating lifestyle diseases like it is prevalent now.
 
They were also blessed with longevity- a long life.
 
We are happy to be a partner to the Sport for Social Change Network to commemorate this
#626CHALLENGE. Starting at 06:00am and ending at 6:00 pm.
 
Let us use this day to commit to making a physically active lifestyle a choice and commit to a movement and encourage others to be a part of it in order for them to also change and also commit to a lifestyle that fosters a healthy way of living.Remember that while we may be at level 1 of the lockdown let us continue to take measures of social distancing, washing your hands and wearing your masks and take all precautions to mitigate the risks of infection.
 
As we celebrate National Recreation Day, let us also be reminded that on Sunday it is World Walking Day. South Africa, on an annual basis commemorates World Walking Day on the 1st Sunday of October with the Big Walk. This year the Big Walk will take place on a virtual platform.
 
We encourage all South Africans to participate in the Virtual Big Walk. It is a free event. Please
visit our websites: www.srsa.gov.za and www.dac.gov.za and register to walk.
 
I choose to be active How about you?