Active living by design

Karen Brideau
Alberta Health Services

Everyone knows that physical activity is important for good health, but most people do not appeciate the scope of its value. Being active is something that most people can do for their entire life, but being active by engaging in physical activity is also a broadly beneficial health intervention – one with few side effects (or risks, as long as you use common sense and wear the proper gear!)
Being physically active can lengthen and improve quality of life, reduce risks for chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes, help maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk for cancer, and maintain bone and muscle strength for reduced risk of falling. It can also reduce stress, reduce risk for mental health conditions and help with depression, decrease disabiltiy and improve sleep.
Physical activity guidelines for children and youth are to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily and for adults to get at least 150 minutes per week. What are you currently doing to meet these recommended levels?
Focus on active living
Active living incorporates physical activity into daily life and routine.
Design your day so that it can include exercise and physical activity done for enjoyment and active transportation (walking, cycling, skateboarding, scootering and other wheeled activities), done for the same, but also for community benefits: i.e. reducing automobile usage. Both deliver on health and wellness benefits!
Our places and spaces are made for physical activity – playgrounds, school grounds and recreation facilities such as gyms, courts and tracks. Outdoor parks, trails and paths are easily accessible, and many communities are becoming more walkable. Our homes, sidewalks and streets (keeping safety in mind with the latter) can function as environments to support activity.
Walking, as a way to be active, can be easily incorporated into your day and can be enjoyed indoors and out (facility and weather permitting). It is a gentle, low-impact exercise that only requires a good pair of walking shoes. The next time that you are feeling low key, consider that a brisk walk will give you energy and boost your mood!
With the longer sun-lit days, there is plenty of time to get moving, by walking or by whatever way suits you best.
With a spring-in-your-step attitude and that summertime mindset to be active, choose physical activity as your go to priority, and active transport as a way to travel!
For information on starting a walking program in your community, call 1-800-732-8981 and ask for the Health Promotion program nearest you.


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