Keeping Active and Getting Back to Play through COVID-19

On June 3rd, 2020 the BC Alliance for Healthy Living hosted a webinar on the importance of keeping active during COVID-19, focusing not only on the “why” but also the “how.”

With safety measures changing weekly, even daily, it was informative to hear from three provincial leaders on how our province is shaping up, what regulations are in store and how we can expect to increase outdoor activity this summer.

Dr. Guy Faulkner set the tone – starting the webinar off citing a Sallis & Pratt, 2020 study on the potential of physical activity to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections.  This study also highlights how exercise can protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, all of which increase the risk of severe illness among those infected with the coronavirus.

Considering the stress of living through a pandemic, Dr. Faulkner shared compelling information on how physical activity can help mitigate depression or in some cases, even prevent it. Also, how the loss of “incidental activity” or the loss of everyday movement built into our pre-COVID-19 lives through commuting, working, running errands, socializing and more should be considered a public health priority.

Our second presenter, Rebecca Tunnacliffe, CEO of the BC Recreation and Parks Association gave a high-level overview of the future of recreation and sports in our province. A quick synopsis reveals that we’ll be spending more time outside, potentially using fields for fitness classes and doing more skill-building before we get back to playing competitive sports.

Rebecca shared some important guidelines including how to bring recreation back through restarting operations as well as a document near and dear to any parent’s heart: Guideline for Public Outdoor Playground Equipment and Spray Parks. [Attached in “Related Documents”]

Our third presenter, Jesse Skulmoski from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure shared guidelines, passion and hope. So far during the pandemic, active transportation (walking, rolling, cycling, kayaking and more) has increased. It’s a safer way for people to be autonomous in getting to where they need to go as well as increasing fitness and mental wellness by getting outside.

Jesse shared new mobility trends, resources for ‘all ages and abilities’ facilities included in the British Columbia Active Transportation Design Guide and a pandemic response in the ministry’s guide for Reallocation of Roadway Space for Physical Distancing.

Public Health guidance and directives are changing rapidly as we work through BC’s Restart Plan. The most up-to-date, evidence-based information concerning safety measures can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website. BCAHL has also compiled up-to-date resources on COVID-19 and physical activity, mental wellness, social connectedness, healthy eating and more. You can find those links at

We want to thank our three presenters for the work they are doing to improve British Columbians’ lives as we live through this pandemic and for sharing that important work with us.  You can listen to the full webinar at the link below.


Guy Faulkner is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology, UBC, and a CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health. In leading the work of the Population Physical Activity Lab (, his research focuses on two inter-related themes: the development and evaluation of physical activity interventions; and physical activity and mental health. He is chair of ParticipACTION’s Research Advisory Group and a member of the Research Work Group for the annual Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.  He is currently enjoying online PE classes with his kids and making embarrassing TIkTok videos.

Rebecca Tunnacliffe is CEO of the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA). Rebecca’s career in leading provincial non-profit organizations has been driven by interests in the arts, education and health. Her focus has included broadening relationships with provincial government and other sector partners, strengthening and engaging Association members, increasing funding and program opportunities and creating a high-performance and inspired team culture at the board and staff level. Rebecca enjoys a daily connection with nature, cycling and exploring the parks and trails around her home on Bowen Island.

Jesse Skulmoski is the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and Active Transportation Grants. His responsibilities span a diverse portfolio of projects beyond the Active Transportation Strategy including leading the Province’s Active Transportation Infrastructure Grant program, following its recent renewal and expansion to increase eligibility and the BC Active Transportation Infrastructure Design Guide – a resource seen to be a global first and anticipated to have a lasting positive impact on planning, design and infrastructure. Jesse is a strategic professional with experience in performance audit, management consultancy, strategic planning, performance, risk, change and project management. Most of all, Jesse is creative and a free thinker with a mind that is open to, and encourages new ideas.


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