Physical Activity Guide Aims To Improve Health Of Canadians
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Canadian Physical Activity Guides

The Physical Activity Unit has the lead responsibility within the Public Health Agency of Canada for delivering on the federal government's role in physical activity. The work of the Unit is based on an approach to partnerships that is multi-sectoral, multi-level, and multi-disciplinary.

The goals of the Physical Activity Unit are:

to encourage and assist all Canadians to be physically active by increasing their awareness and understanding about the benefits of physical activity and the range of opportunities to be physically active in daily life
to influence positive social and physical environments and opportunities that facilitate the integration of physical activity into daily life, and that are accessible to, and equitable for, all Canadians
to establish partnerships with government and non-governmental agencies across levels and sectors, and encourage and support collaborative action and increased capacity to foster physical activity in Canada

The Benefits of Physical Activity

Physical activity offers a range of benefits for all ages and abilities.

For Children/Youth
For Adults
For Seniors
For Individuals With a Disability
For the Environment

For Children/Youth
Physical activity is essential for healthy growth and development. Regular physical activity in childhood develops cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility and bone density 1. For example 35-40% of a person's total bone mass is laid down in four years of adolescence 2.

Physical activity helps maintain a healthy body weight, and is associated with positive self-esteem, greater self-efficacy, improved academic and cognitive performance, and greater perceived well-being. Physical activity helps reduce a number of risk factors for diseases such as coronary heart disease by setting positive habits early on in childhood and adolescence.

Young people who are physically active are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs 3. Problems of juvenile delinquency can decrease when appropriate physical activity programs are available.

For Adults
Regular physical activity and higher levels of fitness allow daily tasks to be accomplished with greater ease and comfort and with less fatigue. Functional decline with advancing age is no longer accepted so lightly as research shows that as much as one half of the decline between the ages of 30 and 70 is due not to aging itself but to an inactive way of life 4.

There is a positive relationship between workplace physical activity programs and job satisfaction. Higher job satisfaction, in turn, can lead to better employee morale, increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism 5.

Leisure-time physical activity provides a balance
to the demands of family and work ... 6

Active individuals typically report improvement in energy levels, job attitude, and overall morale 7.

The Canada Life Assurance Company study noted an increase in productivity in fitness program participants compared to their inactive colleagues. Workplace physical activity programs reduce absenteeism due to illness, injury, and stress 8.

Workplace physical activity policies and programs can improve:
- Coping abilities for stress
- Fitness & health
- Morale
- General work performance
- Job satisfaction
- Organizational effectiveness
- Productivity

Programs can also reduce:
- Absenteeism
- Injuries & accidents
- Turnover
- Disability/compensation costs
- Health care costs
- Life insurance costs

For Seniors
Weight-bearing physical activity reduces the rate of bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Regular physical activity maintains strength and flexibility, and balance and coordination, and can help reduce the risk of falls - a real worry for the elderly 9.

Increasing age is associated with increased limitation in the ability to carry out basic activities of daily living. A significant portion of the decline in functional capacity associated with aging is due to physical inactivity 10.

In short, physical activity helps prolong
good health and independence.


For Individuals With a Disability
The active living movement removes the yardstick in comparing one person to another. It lets people set their own standards, and reap the social, emotional, spiritual and physical benefits of choosing their own activities. Active living helps make coping with the everyday challenges of life easier, and can even prevent relapses of certain disabilities. It can also increase the energy a person has to deal with the physical and mental stresses of a disability.

Continue to focus and strive for a happier,
healthier lifestyle no matter what your
abilities are. You are only limited by
what you are willing to accept and
may be capable of more than
you may think.

From a health perspective, active living increases mobility, improves posture, and reduces aches and pains that can accompany long periods of sitting. Better circulation reduces the possibility of blood-pooling and swelling in the legs. And maintenance of a healthy weight helps those who use aids to get around more easily.

For the Environment
Active living protects and promotes a healthy environment by encouraging Canadians to participate in outdoor activities like walking, cycling and gardening. Environmental benefits are achieved when Canadians choose active modes of transportation such as walking, cycling or in-line skating rather than using their cars for a few more trips per week. Therefore, active living can contribute to decreasing air pollution.

Through active outdoor physical activities (walking, gardening and cycling),
Canadians not only improve their health but also help the environment. 11

SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada