We’ve been enjoying some fantastic spring weather as of late, which makes it the perfect time for each of us to work towards improving our own physical fitness. Physical activity improves our health and well-being, no matter what our age. May is National Fitness Month and why not celebrate it by taking up a new activity or even just making a small change like using the stairs instead of the elevator. Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference.
Research has shown that physical inactivity can lead to premature death, chronic disease, and disability. Our modern lifestyle and hectic schedules have unfortunately made us sedentary, leaving us more vulnerable to diseases and other types of medical conditions. By sitting in front of the television or the computer, using the elevator instead of the stairs, we are contributing to our inactivity. It can be just as dangerous to our health as smoking.
Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommends building 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity into daily life for adults and at least 90 minutes a day for children and youth. Senior citizens should also aim to accumulate 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days. They can do this by starting slowly and building up their physical activity.
Regular physical activity is essential for the healthy growth and development of children. Physical activity allows adults to complete daily tasks more easily and with less fatigue. For seniors, weight-bearing physical activity reduces the rate of bone loss associated with osteoporosis and regular physical activity maintains strength and flexibility, balance and coordination, and can reduce the risk of falls. It can also prolong independent living.
We can all become physically active. It doesn’t require spending hours at the gym everyday, but can be as simple as incorporating simple activities into our daily routines. We can: take the stairs instead of the elevator; take a walk once a day; spend less time in front of the television or the computer; play actively with our children; walk, wheel, or cycle for short trips; or make use of walking or cycling paths in our community. The key thing to remember is choose activities that build endurance, flexibility, as well as strength and balance. By including these three groups, you can receive maximum health benefits and improved quality of life. Benefits of regular physical activity also include: better posture and balance; better self-esteem; weight control; stronger muscles and bones; more energy; as well as reduced stress.
Health Canada recommends starting slowly and building up. If you’re not sure where you should start, you should consult with your health professional. For more information, as well as access to Canada’s Physical Activity Guides, please feel free to visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca.