Many of us are gifted at avoiding physical activity.
Growing up, my dad had a special relationship with our black Labrador retriever, Casey. This dog rode shotgun in his car, visited his workplace, got special snacks, but did not get many walks from my dad.
When this task was designated to my day, he started using his vehicle to take her for early morning runs.
When the wife put an end to this tactic, he moved on to the bike. Unfortunately, one fateful tree got in between my dad, the leash and the dog, resulting in a broken arm and ending the biking routine.
In general, Canadians do not get enough exercise. In fact, Canada has recently published activity guidelines for every age group.
For children, the competing interest is screen time. In adults, time and motivation are the struggle.
Despite knowing that regular exercise is the best way to stay healthy and avoid chronic disease, excuses come easily: We don’t have time. We are too tired. The weather is not perfect.
May is a great month to start an exercise program, as the weather is nice but not scorching, the days are long And it is Bike to Work Month!
So what are the minimum guidelines for physical activity?
Toddlers and preschoolers: Three hours at any intensity throughout the day. This includes playing outside, crawling, walking, dancing, and swimming. Activity builds healthy hearts and muscles, improves coordination and learning and develops self-confidence. For children under two, zero screen time is recommended. For 2-4 year olds, less than one hour per day is recommended.
Children and teenagers: Sixty minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily, with activities that strengthen muscles and bones at least three days a week. This could include playing in the playground, riding a bike, swimming and playing sports. Exercise is important to maintain health and fitness, school performance, maintaining a positive body image and self-confidence and feeling happy. Screen time should be limited to no more than two hours per day.
Adults and seniors: at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more, with muscle and bone strengthening activities at least two days a week.
In adults, regular activity can reduce risk of chronic disease, improve bone density and mobility, maintain independence and improve our mental health.
So get on your bike and ride to work, but if you are taking your dog, let go of the leash!
-Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.