Regular physical activity is an important part of your “health plan”. No matter what your age, physical activity combined with good nutrition can make a big difference in your health, sense of well-being and ability to maintain a healthy weight. Make the move to be more active, and your mind and body will benefit – from your brain to your heart to your bones. For more information, check out Canada’s Physical Activity Guide at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/fitness/pdf/guideEng.pdf.

Get an active edge

People of all ages should spend time each day being physically active. The recommended level of activity and length of time you are active depends on your health and fitness goals.

Adults
Goal: Reduce your risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Improve mental well-being and reduce feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.

  • Participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. This is in addition to your usual daily activities.
  • Most people can achieve even greater health benefits by engaging in more vigorous physical activity or by being physically active for a longer time.

Goal: Manage your weight and prevent the gradual weight gain that can happen as you age.

  • For weight loss, participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day, while not consuming more calories than your body needs. Remember to speak with your healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity. This is especially important if you are just starting to become more active.

Older Adults
Goal:
Reduce the decline in mobility that happens with aging and maintain independent living later in life.

  • Participate in regular physical activities that you enjoy, at a level suitable for your age and ability. For example, walking more is often a safe and easy way to get started.

Children and adolescents
Goal:
Improve physical fitness and promote energy balance to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week while reducing the amount of time spent in sedentary activities.

How active is your lifestyle?

  • A sedentary lifestyle includes only the light physical activity associated with day-to-day life. Sedentary activities include television watching, reading, video games and computer time. It’s wise to reduce the amount of time you are sedentary.
  • A moderately active lifestyle includes the light physical activities of daily living plus activities that require moderate effort. Examples of moderate physical activity are hiking, light yard work, dancing, golfing (walking and carrying clubs), bicycling or walking at a medium pace, light weight lifting and stretching.
  • An active lifestyle includes vigorous physical activity in addition to regular day-to-day activities. Examples of vigorous physical activity are running/jogging, bicycling or walking at a fast pace, swimming (freestyle laps), aerobics, heavy yard work (e.g., chopping wood), intense weight lifting and many organized sports.

Fit in Physical Activity

Any type of physical activity you choose to do will help you burn more calories and make it easier to maintain or lose weight. You will also reap all the health benefits of being active. You can schedule planned activities into your day, such as exercise classes or recreational activities. If it is difficult to schedule large chunks of time devoted to being active, you can add short segments (three to six 10-minutes sessions) of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout your day. These may include activities that you are already doing, such as gardening, housework or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Think about ways to make physical activity a regular part of your lifestyle.

Activities to help you get fit

To improve your level of physical fitness, try to do a variety of different types of activities.

  • Endurance activities speed up your heart rate and breathing. These activities help keep your heart and lungs healthy and can help reduce body fat. Examples include brisk walking, dancing, stair climbing and cycling. Try to participate in endurance activities 4-7 days a week.
  • Strength activities help build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. Try weight training, resistance band workouts or weight lifting with hand-held weights at home. With more body strength and endurance, it is easier to do the basic activities of daily living. Try to participate in strength building activities 2-4 days a week.
  • Flexibility activities help your muscles and joints stay flexible. Examples are Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates and ballet moves. Flexibility exercises in combination with endurance and strengthening activities keep your muscles from tightening and help prevent injury. It may also help older adults avoid falls. Try to participate in flexibility building activities 4-7 days a week.