Canadian Physical Activity Guides
The Physical Activity Unit has the
lead responsibility within the Public Health Agency of Canada
for delivering on the federal government's role in physical activity.
The work of the Unit is based on an approach to partnerships that
is multi-sectoral, multi-level, and multi-disciplinary.
The goals of the Physical Activity
|to encourage and assist all Canadians to be
physically active by increasing their awareness and understanding
about the benefits of physical activity and the range of opportunities
to be physically active in daily life
| to influence positive social and physical environments
and opportunities that facilitate the integration of physical
activity into daily life, and that are accessible to, and
equitable for, all Canadians
|to establish partnerships with government and non-governmental
agencies across levels and sectors, and encourage and support
collaborative action and increased capacity to foster physical
activity in Canada
The Benefits of Physical Activity
Physical activity offers a range of benefits for all
ages and abilities.
For Individuals With a Disability
For the Environment
Physical activity is essential for healthy growth and
development. Regular physical activity in childhood develops cardiovascular
fitness, strength, flexibility and bone density 1.
For example 35-40% of a person's total bone mass is laid down
in four years of adolescence 2.
Physical activity helps maintain a
healthy body weight, and is associated with positive self-esteem,
greater self-efficacy, improved academic and cognitive performance,
and greater perceived well-being. Physical activity helps reduce
a number of risk factors for diseases such as coronary heart disease
by setting positive habits early on in childhood and adolescence.
Young people who are physically active
are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs 3.
Problems of juvenile delinquency can decrease when appropriate
physical activity programs are available.
Regular physical activity and higher levels of fitness
allow daily tasks to be accomplished with greater ease and comfort
and with less fatigue. Functional decline with advancing age is
no longer accepted so lightly as research shows that as much as
one half of the decline between the ages of 30 and 70 is due not
to aging itself but to an inactive way of life 4.
There is a positive relationship between
workplace physical activity programs and job satisfaction. Higher
job satisfaction, in turn, can lead to better employee morale,
increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism 5.
activity provides a balance
to the demands of family and work ... 6
Active individuals typically report
improvement in energy levels, job attitude, and overall morale
The Canada Life Assurance Company
study noted an increase in productivity in fitness program participants
compared to their inactive colleagues. Workplace physical activity
programs reduce absenteeism due to illness, injury, and stress
Workplace physical activity
policies and programs can improve:
- Coping abilities for stress
- Fitness & health
- General work performance
- Job satisfaction
- Organizational effectiveness
Programs can also reduce:
- Injuries & accidents
- Disability/compensation costs
- Health care costs
- Life insurance costs
Weight-bearing physical activity reduces the rate of
bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Regular physical activity
maintains strength and flexibility, and balance and coordination,
and can help reduce the risk of falls - a real worry for the elderly
Increasing age is associated with increased limitation in the
ability to carry out basic activities of daily living. A significant
portion of the decline in functional capacity associated with
aging is due to physical inactivity 10.
short, physical activity helps prolong
good health and independence.
With a Disability
The active living movement removes the yardstick in comparing
one person to another. It lets people set their own standards,
and reap the social, emotional, spiritual and physical benefits
of choosing their own activities. Active living helps make coping
with the everyday challenges of life easier, and can even prevent
relapses of certain disabilities. It can also increase the energy
a person has to deal with the physical and mental stresses of
to focus and strive for a happier,
healthier lifestyle no matter what your
abilities are. You are only limited by
what you are willing to accept and
may be capable of more than
you may think.
From a health perspective, active
living increases mobility, improves posture, and reduces aches
and pains that can accompany long periods of sitting. Better circulation
reduces the possibility of blood-pooling and swelling in the legs.
And maintenance of a healthy weight helps those who use aids to
get around more easily.
Active living protects and promotes a healthy environment
by encouraging Canadians to participate in outdoor activities
like walking, cycling and gardening. Environmental benefits are
achieved when Canadians choose active modes of transportation
such as walking, cycling or in-line skating rather than using
their cars for a few more trips per week. Therefore, active living
can contribute to decreasing air pollution.
active outdoor physical activities (walking, gardening and
Canadians not only improve their health but also help the
SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada