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Mandatory fitness in Manitoba

In the 1970s, Canadians went from couch potatoes to super jocks. Well, not quite. But at least during that decade they did start to get up and get fit. It was thanks to nagging TV ads, the example of an active prime minister and embarrassment compared to some very robust Swedes. But the nagging hasn't been entirely successful. Thirty years later the average Canadian is still overweight and spends more time on the sofa than at the gym.

media clip
In 1978, kids at a Manitoba high school do jumping jacks in the schoolyard. Fitness is top priority for 20 minutes a day at this Portage la Prairie collegiate. The high school makes it mandatory for all students to attend physical activity sessions. Students split into small groups and perform leg stretches, pushups and stride jumps. Teachers are also required to participate in the rigorous regime led by Grade 12 students. One teacher seen jogging in this CBC television clip has lost 30 pounds thanks to his ruthless student trainers.
• Schools in Alberta have recently implemented programs to encourage activity and battle the problem of increasing child obesity. In 2003, over 120 schools employed the Alberta ministry of education-funded Ever Active Program that develops and promotes the use of physical education curriculum.

• To build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis later on in life, children need half an hour of vigorous activity a day until about the age of 20.

• Bone mass naturally starts to deteriorate after the age of 30. Weight-bearing exercise, such as lifting free weights or jogging, performed at any age slows the deterioration.
Medium: Television
Program: What's New
Broadcast Date: May 25, 1978
Host: Sandy Lane
Duration: 1:20

Last updated: May 22, 2014

Page consulted on May 22, 2014

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