The Unrecognized Threat

The numbers are abysmal!

Statistics Canada recently released a report that shows how little Canadians are exercising. Only 15 per cent of adult Canadians are moderately active. “Moderately active” is defined as getting a recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. This categorizes 85% of us as inactive, getting the equivalent of less than a half-hour of walking each day.

Those getting the least exercise are, in fact, our children. Only 7% of Canadians between the ages of 5 and 17 are moderately active. Whatever happened to going outside to play? It has been replaced in large part by video games, social media websites and television. Children should have at least 60 minutes of activity each day.

Being sedentary is becoming a major activity. Canadians say they sit most of the day at work, and then once again when they get home. The statics report that adults spend an average of 9.5 hours a day in sedentary pursuits, the equivalent of about 69 per cent of their waking hours. We get so caught up in our busy lives we do not recognize our inactivity. This is not a healthy trend. Inactivity leads to weaker muscles and increased body fat percentage which in turn leads to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, stress and anxiety.

Exercising at the gym is great but many people say they cannot afford the cost or commit the time. There are other ways to get exercise other than hitting the gym. Exercise means getting up and moving. When it is fun you hardly notice you are exercising at all. Even the little things count. Try these activities for fun sources of exercise:

  • Play catch, Frisbee or a game of tag
  • Walk to the store and school (or work)
  • Walk the dog
  • Ride your bike
  • Garden, mow the lawn
  • Go bowling
  • Chase the dog around in the back yard
  • Go for a hike or bike ride or even better on a hilly forest path
  • Take the stairs
  • Join a dance class
  • Go swimming
  • Try rock climbing
  • Go for a walk after dinner to watch the sun set
  • Go for a jog
  • Come up with your own way to get moving!

Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions

Many of us make new year’s resolutions saying “this year will be the year!” Then we are disappointed when we do not achieve our goals. Things seem to fall by the way side around the end of January or February. We think “Maybe next year.” But your resolutions can still be achieved! The key is to set a series of smaller incremental goals that you can reach. Once you have achieved step one then step two is not that hard to obtain and so on. Changing habits such as poor eating/ overeating, drinking too much coffee, smoking and not exercising take work and it is unreasonable to expect those ingrained habits to change overnight. Here is a list of easily obtainable goals to get you started on the path to a healthy lifestyle!

Goal: Cut back on junk food. Substitute junk food with healthy food by eating from the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables a day. Start by increasing the number of servings by one per week until you reach your goal. Try filling ½ of your plate with vegetables at each meal.

Goal: Decrease the amount of food/calories eaten. Eating more whole foods will keep you full for a longer period of time. Be sure to eat whole grain foods. Also be aware of high calorie foods. E.g. that double chai latte has a lot more calories than a chai tea. Frequently we drink our calories by consuming pop, juice and specialty coffee drinks. Drink more tea and water. If you don’t like the taste of water try squeezing a lemon or lime into it.

Goal: Decrease the amount of red meat consumed. Try substituting chicken, turkey, fish, beans or tofu one meal per week. Gradually increase the number of meals without red meat. You’ll see a healthier you and savings on your grocery bill!

Goal: Limit coffee to one cup per day. Start by downsizing your coffee per serving. Try substituting green tea for coffee if you are having caffeine withdrawal.

Goal: Quit smoking. Make a commitment to yourself. Going cold turkey works for some people while others respond better to decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Find the method that works for you.

Goal: Exercise 3-5 times a week. Start off with a walk after dinner for 20 minutes then start extending the amount of time and the distance you travel. Walking is a great way to lose weight and it is cheaper than a gym membership!

Once you have achieved these goals you can build on them until you become the healthiest, best you!

Happy New Year!