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Keep on exercising

Comments (5)
By Peter Hadzipetros

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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Comments (5)

Tim

Ontario

One of my favourite cartoons at the doctor's was of a physician telling an overweight patient "what fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?" If you have time to over eat, watch tv and surf the internet responding to blogs like this, you have ample time to exercise. It's all in the priorities you set.

Posted June 20, 2009 07:53 PM

Jane D

Vancouver

MarcB, there is a lot of merit to what toomanycrayons posted. I am a working mother with two children under the age of four, yet I manage to work out 10+ hours a week. And I am not "priviledged". You don't have to be working out in 2-3 hour blocks of time to get the benefits from exercise. Yesterday for example, I ran 45 minutes (with my child in a stroller and my dog at my side) before work, went to a yoga class over my lunch hour, and biked to and from the office. Voila- 2 hours of exercise. It takes some planning, but it really isn't that hard to fit exercise into your day, even if you are busy. As for people not having the energy to exercise, regular exercise increases your energy level and improves your sleep. The "too busy" and "too tired" excuses are just that- excuses.

Posted June 10, 2009 03:46 PM

MarcB

Toronto

The above poster lives in a bubble of ignorance and priviledge. Not everyone has time or energy to work out for 2-3 hours a week 5 times a week. Some people have kids or relatives to take care of. They have extra work to do at home. They have sleep to catch up on. If everyone had a job as easy as yours sounds, with no real responsibilities, then yes there would be some merrit in what you say. Very Marie Antoinette of you.

I do not have nearly the responsibilities or commitments of most people as I am a student, but I am not unable to understand how difficult it must be for others.

Posted June 10, 2009 02:59 PM

Johnny Longsleeves

I just came back from a 2 week stint in rural Southern Texas ( where it's warm and sunny year round) and I would say the majority of the people I saw ( driving Pickup trucks) were on the heavier side of healthy. This included kids shopping with their 'overweight' parents at Walmart.

The scenery didn't improve at the local restaurants. Many of the "younger people" were doing their best to be ' just like mommy and daddy'.

Now I don't want to pass judgement, not having the opportunity to walk a block in their shoes, but at what point does someone realize they are getting fat!

As a runner-in-training, I've been trying to determine whether I run to eat or eat to run. Economists call this the Runner's Paradox.

Posted June 8, 2009 12:35 PM

toomanycrayons

Ontario

"And you'll be healthier than your less active friends."

I got a few "Disagrees" for comments elsewhere that, regarding the obesity epidemic, we "should give shame a chance." I don't apologise for linking fitness to social worth.

The burden of low-fitness and obesity related disorders is set to beggar our society. I suspect that the burden will approach the current financial crisis. The added toll is that the unfit/obese are like the wounded in war: They just keep on being a drain, a self-inflicted one.

Recently, Amanda Lang of BNN related the sad news that the way to lose weight turns out to be "Eat less. Do more." She then added that no one wanted to hear that, did they? Indeed.

A WWII vet told me that the rule was: "Never make friends with the fat guy because you'd end up carrying his bag."

Sixty-five years since WWII and nothing's changed. I have no "less active friends." Surprisingly, I've been told that "everything is easy for me because I'm so skinny!" (6' 2"-195lbs?) Yeah, and it might be the 10-15 hours/week of exercise and sensible eating?

I resent the fat and the unfit. A trip to the mall is disgusting. What are all these slobs thinking? If they think that everything will be fine they should work on that.

"Keep exercising?" They'd better start. Our civilisation is driven by fear and shame. That hasn't changed. I don't think the outcome of global warming will be more for everyone. It most certainly won't be more than you need for anyone.

Wow, rants like that are like doing hill-repeats: Good for the soul.

Anybody going medium-long today? I have to burn off some pizza. I'm thinking 3hrs @ 125-145 bpm. Then maybe some icecream.

Posted June 7, 2009 06:59 PM

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About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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