VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – We grade kids on their fitness levels all the time, but ParticipACTION has just released its first-ever report card rating grown-ups on the shape they’re in — and it’s not pretty.
The non-profit group, which promotes healthy living, gives adults an overall “D” grade for physical activity, but that mark may be flattering considering only a fraction of Canadians over the age of 18 get the recommended amount of heart-pumping exercise per week.
“Canadians are not as physically active as we would hope them to be,” admits Dr. Guy Faulkner, a professor of kinesiology at the University of British Columbia who contributed to the report card.
“Approximately 16 per cent of Canadians from 18 to 79 years of age are achieving 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. That is a failing grade,” Faulkner tells NEWS 1130. “But when we look at daily movements as well — and how many steps Canadians are taking — we see some better numbers. Approximately 52 per cent of adults are achieving more than 7,500 steps per day.”
That’s a good sign, Faulkner says, but Canadian adults need to ramp up the intensity of that movement to reap the full benefits.
“So overall, we do see a ‘D’ grade with clearly some room for improvement in terms of increasing engagement in moderate-to-vigorous levels of physical activity.”
The report card also points out that, for the first time in Canada’s history, adults over the age of 65 make up a larger percentage of the country’s population than those aged 15 and under.
It finds that caring for our aging population is increasingly falling on the “sandwich generation”, adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have to balance their needs with those of their aging parents and their children. Of the more than eight million Canadians who are caregivers, 50 per cent are between the ages of 45-65.
“Any movement is good movement, at any age, in particular, for adults and older adults,” says Research Committee Chair Nora Johnston. “What became clear in the Report Card findings is that physical activity needs to become more of a priority. You can’t stop aging, but you can age better with physical activity.”
She adds that Canadians in the sandwich generation, along with their aging parents, can and should be doing more to get active, to stay healthy as they age and be an example for their children.
The good news, Johnston says, is that 74 per cent of adults in Canada say they have strong intentions to be physically active within the next six months.