Healthy Hub - July 2011
Not only are Canadians eating an unhealthy diet, but we are living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. A recent study conducted by Statistics Canada found that fewer than two out of every ten Canadians are exercising 2.5 hours per week. A more alarming study found only 7% of children are active one-hour a day. The lack of physical activity has contributed to an obesity epidemic in Canada, as well as increasing rates of other chronic diseases. In 2004 StatsCan estimated that over 23% of the population was obese, compared to 10% in 1970.
Ideal physical activity levels: Adults and children
|Age Range||Minimum level of activity|
|5 - 11 years||60 minutes of moderate to vigorous level activity daily|
|12 - 17 years||60 minutes of moderate to vigorous level activity daily|
|18 - 64 years||150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity level activity weekly|
|65 plus||150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity level activity weekly|
The rise of specific diseases, such as hypertension, type II diabetes, gallbladder disease, coronary artery disease, osteoarthritis and colon cancer is directly related to weight gain.
Our sedentry lifestyle is costing British Columbia $700 million per year on obesity-related costs and is expected to cost $1 billion by 2015.
Exercise in the news
A groundbreaking study recently published by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found exercise reversed the signs of aging in mice. Mice who exercised daily were robust and had fuller, shinier hair. This was then compared to mice who did not exercise who appeared to be balding and weak.
Dr. Tarnopolsky is studying and treating mitochondria dysfunction, an aging related illness that causes cells to slow down and produce less energy; contributing to aging, brain atrophy, wrinkles, hair loss and heart problems. Learn more about mitochondria from the BC Medical Journal.
In his study, Dr. Tarnoplsky injected a gene of dysfunctional mitochondria into the mice, meaning they were designed to age prematurely, then separated half of the mice to exercise on small treadmills three times a week. The other half remained sedentary in their cages.
The results were astonishing. The mice that exercised regularly remained youthful in appearance and their organs and brain improved in health. The mice that remained sedentary deteriorated physically and mentally.
Dr. Tarnopolsky said this is an excellent example of what happens to human bodies when exercise plays a regular role in their lifestyle, noting it is never too late to start exercising and see change. Previously, Dr. Tarnopolsky conducted a study on weight training in seniors, which proved to significantly slow down the body’s aging process.
The many benefits of exercise
The benefits of daily exercise are numerous. Not only does it make you look and feel good but it also provides a long list of physical, social and mental health gains. Physical activity decreases your risk of chronic diseases, particularly coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. It may also lessen the severity of alcoholism, depression, stress, anxiety and loneliness. When people adopt a physically active lifestyle numerous benefits can be expected such as reduced health care and absenteeism costs, increased productivity, healthier physical and social environments, and stronger participation in sports and other community events.
A move towards health
Health groups, including the World Health Organization, BC's Ministry of Health and the Canadian Medical Association have developed initiatives to bring awareness to this alarming epidemic. In 2002 WHO began its annual Move for Health Day each May, challenging the globe to be physically active for at least 30 minutes on that day. Canada joined the challenge, and now every year communities from coast to coast participate in organized physical activities meant for all age groups.
The BC Recreation and Parks Association leads British Columbia in registered community events. To find one in your area, visit the BCRPA Move for Health website.
The BCMA coordinates an annual event called Walk with your Doc to help BC physicians highlight the benefits of daily exercise to their patients. In May 2011 over 100 doctors across the province led thousands of patients on a walk 1-2km in length around their communities.
Physical activity in children
HARD FACT: One in three children in Canada are overweight or obese. In the 1980s it was one in eight. Children are spending more and more of their time in front of the television, computer and video games instead of playing outside. Because of this lifestyle, more and more children are becoming afflicted with chronic diseases previously seen only in adults. Health Canada recommends children aged 6-18 participate in physical activity for at least one hour a day to receive the benefits of exercise.
Visit the BCMA's BC Doctors facebook page for information and resources on childhood obesity.
How do you know if your child is obese? Parents can find out how healthy their child is by using a Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI is an indirect indicator of body fat, based on height and weight measurements. Visit the Childhood Obesity Foundation for a link to a BMI calculator.
Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for children and teens
|Age range||Minimum level of activity||Moderate level activity||Vigorous level activity|
|5 - 17 years||60 minutes of moderate to vigrous physical activity per day||Bike riding, skating, playground activities||Running, swimming, rollerblading|
Physical activity in women
Too few adults are active on a regular basis - but the number is lower for women than it is for men. While 17per cent of men meet the guidelines of 30 minutes of physical activity per day, only 14 per cent of women meet the daily requirement for exercise. Heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke account for one-third of deaths in women around the world. Regular physical activity can maintain cardiovascular health, contributing to greater all round physical health. It can also be an important tool in preventing osteoporosis, a low bone density disease that becomes high-risk for post-menopausal women. Visit Health Canada’s Physical Activity website for healthy tips to keep active daily.
Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for adults
|Age Range||Minimum level of activity||Moderate level activity||Vigorous level activity|
|18 - 64 years||150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week||Brisk walking, bike riding||jogging, cross-country skiing|
Physical activity in seniors
The number of seniors in Canada is beginning to double and will continue to grow in the next twenty years as the baby boomer generation enters retirement. This age group must recognize the importance of staying physically active right into old age, although the physical intensity may be reduced slightly. Even if regular exercise starts late in life, the benefits are still there. Pain and disability of many common diseases can be relieved through physical activity. Mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and depression can be managed through exercise as well. Group exercise can provide the opportunity for making new friends and maintaining ties in the community, and provide self-confidence and self-sufficiency. Visit Health Canada’s Physical Activity website for healthy tips to keep active daily.
Canadian physical Activity Guidelines for seniors
|Age range||Minimum level of activity||Moderate level activity||vigorous level activity|
|65 +||150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week||Brisk walking, bicycling||cross-country skiing, swimming|
How to keep moving:
There are many resources available to get British Columbians active. Look throught the list and visit the site that's right for you.
Walk BC - Whether you are a veteran walker or just getting started Walk BC has access to walking resources, an interactive map and information about pedometers. Walk BC is a provincial initiative led by the BCRPA and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of BC and the Yukon.
Workplace Moving - Promoting a healthy, active lifestyle in your workplace is easier with events and resources. Visit Walk BC - Workplace Walking or Get The World Moving for employee health tips and challanges.
Canadian Medical Association. CMA Policy; Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Weights. PD06-03. 2006.
World Health Organization. World Health Day 2002, Physical Activity and older People. www.who.int/word-health-day. 2002.
World Health Organization. World Health Day 2002, Women and Physical Activity. www.who.int/word-health-day. 2002
Chant, Jessica. 2011 Move for Health Day; Move for Health Day: Physical Activity Fact Sheet. BC Recreation and Parks Association. www.bcrpa.bc.ca/mfhd. 2011.
Chant, Jessica. 2011 Move for Health Day; Resources to Help Make Every Day Move for Helath Day. BC Recreaton and Parks Association. www.bcrpa.bc.ca/mfhd. 2011.
Abma, Derek. "Few Canadians meet recommended activity guidelines; StatsCan." Postmedia News. January 19, 2011.
Delaney, Rebecca. "Research Shows Exercise Reverses Aging in Mice." AOL News. March 14, 2011.
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. www.csep.ca/guidelines.
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