Canadian adults need to get a wiggle on; too many getting too little physical activity

"Any movement is good movement, at any age"

We’re not huffing and puffing enough.

Participaction has released its first report card for adults.

Canadians 18 years of age and older get a ‘D’ for overall physical activity, and an ‘F’ when it comes to moderate to vigorous activity.

Participaction says we spend far too much time seated or reclined in front of a screen – an average of 3.6 hours per day, and 90 percent of us are sedentary for more than eight hours a day – not including sleep time. Sedentary time increases with age and older adults (65+) are spending the most time inactive. This is of major concern since physical inactivity can lead to increased risk of chronic diseases, cognitive decline, slips and falls and social isolation among older adults.

“Any movement is good movement, at any age — in particular, for adults and older adults,” said Report Card Research Committee Chair Nora Johnston, MA. “What became clear in the Report Card findings is that physical activity needs to become more of a priority. You can’t stop aging, but you can age better with physical activity.”

Physical activity has been socially engineered out of our day to day lives, says Particpaction, noting the majority of the work we do no longer requires physical labour.

Just 16 percent of us are getting the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous activity.

The Adult Report Card highlights three key benefits of regular physical activity that help older Canadians Age Better:

  1. Staying on your feet: As we age, natural changes like slowed reaction times and decreased muscle and bone strength contribute to an increase in slips and falls. Engaging in activities like strength training or tai chi can help you meet the weekly activity guidelines while improving balance, core strength and stability, which help prevent falls.vii
  2. Staying cognitively strong: Age is the primary risk factor for dementia and a recent report projects that it will affect close to 1.4 million adults in Canada by 2031. Research shows that being physically active can help protect against the onset of dementia and slow its progression. Regular brain stimulation with physical activity can extend our years of strong brain health.viii
  3. Staying connected: 1 in 5 adults in Canada experience some level of loneliness or isolation and older adults are at higher risk due to a lack of mobility and shrinking social networks. Making time to get active each day with others builds social connections and enhances community engagement.ix

Small steps can make a big difference:
Everything gets better when you get active, including how we age. Whether you want to Age Better, Sleep Better, Think Better, Poop Better, or another one of the many “betters” that come with regular physical activity, it’s never too late to start sitting less and moving more. Some simple ways to start, include:

  • Move more throughout the day – be it active transportation, daily chores, gardening, or walking the family pet.
  • Try something new – and once you find an activity you like, stick with it.
  • Up the intensity – try to do the same task or walk the same path in less time each time you do it – bonus if you can add an incline or steps.
  • Ask others to join in – make it social.
  • Break up extended periods of sitting with movement – make it a “walking meeting” at work or a “moving moment” during a commercial break.
  • Add strength training to your routine 2-3 times a week.