Make Fitness a Priority in Your Life

By Charlotte Bumstead
With the New Year comes new motivation for getting off the couch and turning fitness goals into a reality. But it turns out Canadians need more incentive than just another fresh start. According to public health professionals, the fitness requirements of Canadians are more drastic than ever. Canadians are so out of shape that national guidelines—to be released later this month from the Public Health Agency of Canada—will lower recommended levels of daily activity as an attempt to encourage Canadians to exercise.
The current recommendation for adults is 60 minutes of exercise a day, when most adults are only putting in two hours a week. The new guidelines suggest a minimum of 150 minutes a week, a target coinciding with the latest research and imitating standards of the World Health Organization, as well as U.S. and U.K. authorities. Recent lab tests illustrate a decreased level of stimulus necessary to the body in order to produce results. For a person who is completely inactive, a mere 10 minutes of physical activity will present health benefits.

“The key is actually getting Canadians to get up and move,” says Kerry Braniff, certified personal trainer and fitness instructor of 16 years. “This will take collaboration, strategic planning and commitment from all levels of governments and key stakeholders to ensure individuals have safe, accessible, low cost environments in which to be active.” The moderated guideline is an attempt to reach public health goals—experts are hoping the recent target will be more attainable for new exercisers trying to meet the minimum physical activity recommendation.

“Physical activity is the second most important modifiable risk factor—next to cigarette smoking—in the prevention of chronic disease,” Braniff says. Braniff has obtained her Masters degree in public health. Among an extended biography of work experience, she is currently the program coordinator for the fitness leadership certificate program at Sheridan College. When speaking of the boomer generation, Braniff says, “The motivation factor here is fear—it works really well for this age group. Just tell them they may not be able to get off a toilet seat if their leg strength decreases, and they will be doing squats in no time.”

Zoomers are those who choose to engage in improving quality of life and maintaining long term independence. This means substituting the 30-minute TV program or computer time to partake in physical activity and make your health a priority. It is also important for Zoomers to lead by example. “We are the first generation in history to be at risk of having a life expectancy for the youth of today that is lower than their parents,” Braniff says. If the boomers are active, they can motivate their children and grandchildren to follow suit.
Braniff says, “Exercise is like brushing your teeth and paying your bills; we don’t always want to do it, but it’s a must to a long and productive life.” To follow through with your 2011 resolutions, set realistic fitness goals. Start slowly and push yourself forward as you notice gradual improvements, making physical activity a part of your regular routine.
Exercise newbies can check out this 7 Day Workout Plan for inexpensive exercises you can do from the comfort of your home.