New PHAC Regulations Hurting or Helping Canadians?

42% of Canadian adults aren't getting any physical exericse

When I got to work this morning, I took a few minutes to peruse the headlines when this article caught my eye: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/12/31/exercise-fitness-guidelines-canada-weighs-in.html

It appears that in order to address the issue of ever increasing obesity rates in the Canadian population the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has decided to lower its recommended daily physical activity rate from 60 minutes per day to 150 minutes per week for adults and from 90 minutes per day to 60 minutes for children.

That has got to be one of the biggest oxy-morons, ever!

It’s no secret that Canadian obesity rates are ever increasing.  47% of the adult population is overweight or obese and an overwhelming 42% don’t do any form of physical activity. We are a country that prides itself on having the great outdoors in our backyard and yet more and more of us stay sit on our asses watching the hockey game rather than actually play hockey.

When did watching sports become a sport?

I experienced a lot of emotions while reading this article: exasperation, anger, indignation, but mostly I was just sad.  This article brought me back to the days when I was an active kid that played multiple sports, had endless amounts of energy, and just had plain old fun going outside with my friends.

Unless you were sick, my parents had a rule where you were not allowed to spend weekends or vacations hanging around the house. The video game consoles were unplugged, the TV’s and VCR’s (yes, we had VCR’s back then) were turned off and we were booted out the door dressed according to the current weather conditions.

In the summer we would spend hours in the park playing soccer, baseball, and tag, or splashing around in the pool.  Winter was for skiing, sledding, skating, and good old fashioned snow-ball fights.  We didn’t have Wiis or PS3’s we had legitimate exercise and social interaction.  With all those options open to us, 90 minutes a day was more than feasible, hell, it was just a given.

Even my parents found ways to stay active.  My Mom played soccer for a few years, my Dad played squash; today they are both avid golfers and skiers.  They may not get in 60 minutes a day everyday, but they certainly don’t sit in that 42% category either.

But that was then, this is now.  In 2011, we have grown so advanced in technology that we no longer feel the need to spend our time outside.  We buy Wii fits, gym memberships, and all sorts of fancy quick-fix fitness equipment we’ll never use.  Who needs to go for a walk with a friend when you can Facebook chat them from the comfort of your bed/couch wearing your Lululemon pants that you’ve never ONCE taken to a yoga class?

At the end of the day, the Public Health Agency has got it wrong, it’s not time to make it “easier” for people to get their recommended daily physical activity, it’s time to make them realize how easy it is to live up to the current standards.  60 minutes a day is nothing. The average person works 9-5 with a 60 minute lunch.  So rather than continue to sit down (you’ve most likely been sitting in your chair all day) get out and walk with some co-workers and there you have it- you’ve gotten in your 60 minutes of recommended physical activity.

Sorry, PHAC, but this isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense.  Lowering the standards is not only insulting to us who do manage to stay active, but is an easy way out for people who don’t make the effort to start.

So with that in mind, this is what I propose.  Starting today, for the next 60 days, I am going to make an effort to get in 60 minutes of physical activity per day to show you and the PHAC just how stupidly easy this is.

This could include: walking, running, yoga, weight training, biking, swimming, rock climbing, skiing, etc… You get the picture.

Feel free to join me.

Now, turn off the computer and go get some exercise.

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About Jess @ MTL Veggie

Jess, the face behind The MTL Veggie is a vegetarian, athlete, marketer and Torontonian turned Montrealer. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, photography, running, yoga, skiing, and of course blogging. The MTL Veggie recaps her recipes, restaurant reviews, and what it's like to be a Leafs fan living in Montreal (hint: scary at times).
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One Response to New PHAC Regulations Hurting or Helping Canadians?

  1. Tess says:

    Further to our conversation from last week: there was quite a bit of research done on PHAC’s part before creating this guideline (there has to be or they would get in real sh**!) So this is actually evidence-based. They found that 60mins per day was actually MORE than what was needed for an adult to stay healthy, which is part of why they’re changing it.

    Now, having said that (had to defend my PHAC peeps!), 20minutes per day seems extremely low. You know me…. I’m all about the exercise! So I’d like to join in on your challenge 😀

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