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Keep on exercising

Despite frost warnings in parts of the country, it's almost June and definitely trending warmer. Time for all of us to get more active.

Except that teenager who's probably still asleep in his or her basement lair.

There's a good reason for that, according to a recent study out of the Université de Montréal. It found – surprise, surprise – that teens are more active in the warmer months than during the dead of winter.

No shocker there. However, the study — published in the Annals of Epidemiology — also found that the winter drop-off continues and builds each year. Your kid may be getting a little more active in the spring and summer, but not active enough to compensate for the previous winter's drop-off.

The study found that for every 10 mm of rainfall, the number of physical activity sessions per day dropped by two to four per cent. Physical activity sessions rose by one to two per cent for every 10 C rise in temperature. Overall, activity decreased by seven per cent per year.

So by the time you're sure your teen's ready to move on and — say — find a summer job, they've barely got the get-up-and-go to carry out a midnight raid on the refrigerator.

A second study — also out of the Université de Montréal and just as "surprising" — found that Canadian adults aren't active enough.

Increasingly less active teenagers turning into less active adults?

It was a pretty comprehensive study — collecting data from other surveys from over two decades. The results were published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

The study found that 56 per cent of Canadian adults are consistently inactive. Only 12 per cent of participants remained active from survey to survey.

There was one bright spot: 25 per cent of those surveyed increased their levels of activity over time.

That is good news because other studies have shown that it's never too late to get into an exercise program. Just don't nag me into it.


A study
— published several years ago in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine — found that 98 per cent of people over 50 surveyed said that getting exercise is key to staying healthy. But getting them off the couch was another matter.

Part of the problem: warning people to see their doctor before embarking on an exercise program made it sound like there's a risk to exercising.

Of course there is. Sure, running a marathon may cause short-term injury to your heart, but the effects are gone within a week. And you'll be healthier than your less active friends.

At least that's what a cardiologist told me last week after reviewing my test results.

"No signs of damage or blockage anywhere," he said. "Your heart rate's a little low. But that's a sign of a fit person."

"Keep on exercising."

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