Are you sitting idly as your health passes you by?
It’s time to join the 15 per cent. A 2011 Statistics Canada report found that is the percentage of adults who are getting the 150 minutes of weekly exercise needed to maintain health. Two years later that number hasn’t improved.
Even though it’s a few months late I have resolved to get those minutes of weekly aerobic activity recommended by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP). The CSEP recommends that adults between the ages of 18 – 64 aim for two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly. Sounds completely reasonable, doesn’t it? There are 168 hours in a week after all and this will only use two and a half of them. It is actually 16 minutes less time than I spent watching Peter Jackson’s recently released epic The Hobbit.
Maybe you are wondering why you should care. You are young and healthy after all. Consider this: an Oct. 2012 article by public health reporter Andre Picard in The Globe and Mail states that “Sitting is the new smoking.” Picard’s article entitled, “Why the Sedentary Life is Killing Us” presented some pretty startling statistics. Those who are inactive face a 147 per cent increased risk of heart attack or stroke, a 112 per cent increase in the risk of developing diabetes, and a 90 per cent greater risk of dying from cardiac arrest. The article continues on with the stats that the average Canadian adult spends 50 to 70 per cent of their daily lives sitting. Ouch. Get moving people.
Why is it so hard to get exercise? Perhaps our lifestyles aren’t helping. Many people commute long distances to work, students spend a lot of time sitting in classes and in front of the computer, and part-time jobs and other commitments fill up a day.
However, there is good news. Physical activity does not have to be a complicated regime of racing to the gym, sprinting to spin-class and then pedaling so hard you are sweating from places you didn’t even know existed and your face turns red as a beetroot. CSEP says that undertaking exercise in sessions of 10 minutes or more at a time is just as effective as an hour all at once, as long as it is moderate to vigorous movement and gets your heart rate up. Yes, doing that counts. The long walk across campus to your class at MAC and then back to the UC counts. A walk to the mall, through the Arboretum, or around the block with your roommate’s dog – it all counts.
There are many resources available to help inspire you with ideas of how to fit more activity into your daily life. The Public Health Agency of Canada, who founded CSEP’s study of Canadians exercise habits, has posted physical activity tip sheets on their website at www.publichealth.gc.ca. For adults, these include: getting 2.5 hours of weekly exercise (there’s that number again), finding an activity you enjoy, limiting TV time, and joining a team for support.
As for me, I’ve never been part of a sports team and I won’t be giving up watching Girls or Arrow anytime soon. I enjoy cycling and hiking but participate in those activities mostly in the summer. So in the meantime walking is the easiest thing for me to do. I think I will take the dog for a 20-minute walk. Only 130 left to do this week.
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