All sporting facilities, backcountry walks trails, and parks in New Zealand are lock down for four weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
New Zealanders known for their high participation in outdoor sports. Many people find that outdoor recreation is part of their stress management strategy when they experience high levels of stress. Their sense of belonging, identity, and community are enhance by their connection to the natural world.
My research on the benefits of outdoor recreation and informal sports during conflict and after disasters like the Christchurch earthquakes revealed parallels to the difficulties New Zealanders face while locked down. This research shows how important outdoor activities are for people’s resilience and the creative strategies they will employ to rebuild their sense of routine.
Let’s Get Rid Of The Mixed Messages Surrounding Outdoor Exercise Lock
The government’s message about outdoor activities at the beginning of the lockdown was mix. The prime minister encouraged people to stay at home and not leave their neighbourhood for exercise, but the Ministry of Health COVID-19 website states clearly. You can leave your home as long as you’re not ill. Access essential services such as grocery shopping or visiting a bank or pharmacy.
If You Are Working For An Essential Service, Go To Work Lock
Take a walk or do some exercise to enjoy the outdoors. You must maintain a distance of 2 metres from others when you leave your home. People who are outside the Alert Level 4 lockdown may be monitor by police and asked questions to see what they are doing.
People should be able to enjoy outdoor activities within walking distance of their homes, which highlights the inequalities in outdoor recreation access. Some people are not able to walk to the beach or bush reserve. These inequalities will felt over coming weeks.
Initial confusion caused divisions in the outdoor sports community. Surfing New Zealand conducted an online survey and found that 58% believe surfing should be allow with social distancing. Many surfers continue to do so despite the ban on recreational use of the ocean.
Local communities have taken it upon themselves, to police these activities. Online forums are filled with threats of physical, verbal and symbolic violence. This is all in the name of community safety. Many people are reporting that they have been harmed by Level 4 restrictions to the police.
While there is still much debate in certain lifestyle sports communities, most New Zealanders are committed to larger public health goals than their personal desires. They also have been doing the right things on social distancing.
Many national and local sports organizations, including Fish and Game and the Mountain Safety Council, Coastguard and NZ Water Safety, have issued strong discouragements to hiking, hunting, mountain biking and all other outdoor and ocean activities.
The government has made it much clearer that they encourage people to not drive for other than their essential needs.
Outdoor Recreation Increases Resilience And Recovery
It is well known that physical and sport activity have many benefits for mental and physical well-being. Research has also shown the importance of physical activity, sport, and play in building resilience during stressful times.
Further evidence supports the importance of nature and outdoor recreation for mental health in times of stress or trauma.
Christchurch residents lost their favorite sporting venues in the earthquake that struck February 22, 2011. My research revealed that informal outdoor activities have a variety of benefits for people living in Christchurch, including weight maintenance and stress reduction, greater resilience, stronger feelings of belonging and connectedness.
Researchers have found that if a person’s attachment is disrupted by an event such as war or natural catastrophe, it can lead to identity discontinuity, feelings of loss, and mourning.
Many Christchurch residents were sadden by the destruction of historic buildings and other places they frequented after the 2011 earthquakes. Some people associate their deepest feelings with places where they have participated in active recreation for years. Many New Zealanders will feel the loss of their sport and fitness areas, and they will be longing for them in the current lockdown.
Returning To Your Routines Lock
Research has shown that people often try to minimize the impact of major disruptions to their daily. Routines by trying restore routines, familiar spaces and timings.
My case studies of the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011 and other locations (New Orleans, Gaza and Afghanistan). Show that people are creative in engaging in sports activities. Which helps them deal with uncertainty and higher levels of stress.
Many Christchurch residents have reclaimed earthquake-damaged areas. Many people worked together to find safe places to participate, rather than accept closures. These new places became therapeutic landscapes, which provided much-needed psychological relief, escapism, and connection to the natural environment.
The context of New Zealand’s lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic are quite different. However, there may be similarities in the psychological challenges and resilience strategies lock.
We are already seeing innovative ways to keep active recreation activities going. Many people are renovating their garages to create outdoor training areas and fitness circuits. Others set up backyard parkour routes to entertain their children.
Surfers cut off from the ocean for nine month after the Christchurch earthquakes. The current time constraints will likely lead to a renewed. Appreciation of the special places that give us identity and connection.