National Health and Fitness Day

National Health and Fitness Day | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Did you know that June 2nd is National Health and Fitness Day? As part of this initiative and following the passing of Bill S-211, over 330 communities from all across Canada – including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut – will all be taking part.

As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary always stresses the importance of keeping fit – because the better shape your body is in, the healthier you will be overall. Unfortunately, physical activity is on the decline in Canada, which means certain preventable illnesses are on the rise. For example, things like high blood pressure, cholesterol, type II diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and even certain mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. By modifying your diet and getting regular exercise, you not only significantly reduce the risk of these common illnesses, but in some cases may even prevent them all together. Studies have also shown that getting 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity each day is also highly effective at combating stress, and can even be helpful in the prevention of a common cold or flu. To read more exciting research about how keeping fit can improve your overall health, click here.

Tips for Children and Youth (5 to 17 yrs)

Physical activity is essential for the healthy growth and development of children and youth between the ages of 5 and 17. As mentioned, it not only plays an important role in preventing chronic illnesses, but also helps to develop a child’s cardiovascular health, strength, as well as bone density. In order to ensure your kids have optimal health, it’s important that parents establish positive habits as early as possible – as they can carry those lessons throughout their lives. As technology is such a huge part of kids lives these days, parents should consider limiting how much time they allow their children to spend in front of a computer, television or smartphone, and instead replace that screen time with something active. For example, go on a family hike, walk the family pet, etc. If old enough, kids should also be encouraged to walk or bike to school, while they should also be encouraged to partake in after-school programs – for example, joining a sports team. There are also plenty of similar programs available for the summer months while kids are out of school. You can find a wide range of recreational programs for kids via the City of Vancouver website at Vancouver.ca. Along with improved health, kids who get regular exercise are shown to have better personal relationships, higher academic scores, and even improved self-esteem.

Tips for Adults and Seniors (18 to 65+ yrs)

Adults should focus on being active for a minimum of 3 hours each week in order to achieve the health benefits they’re looking for, with the focus being on moderate to vigorous physical activity broken into 10-minute sessions (or more), as well as adding physical activity that targets your bones and muscles. Sometimes it can be hard to get into a routine, so it’s important to find one that’s right for you – and not only that, but it needs to be something you enjoy. One of the biggest reasons that someone’s weight might yo-yo is due to the fact that they’re not enjoying what they do and often feel as though exercise is more of a chore. Thus, weight goes up and down, health declines, and you’re left feeling like you have to start back at square one all over again…but exercise doesn’t have to feel like a daunting task. Simply find something you love and stick with it. Fitness can also be more fun if you get a few friends involved.

Seniors who are wanting to increase their physical activity should always first consult with their physician before incorporating anything new into their routine. This is especially important if they have an underlying/pre-existing medical condition, as too much physical activity can sometimes exacerbate an illness. That being said, seniors who do get regular physical activity will improve their strength, which reduces the risk of things like falls (resulting in bone breaks and fractures), and also reduces the risk of premature death. Aerobic and strengthening activities like going for a walk, taking a dance class, an even doing yoga are all great options for seniors looking to keep fit.

So get out there, get active, and see what you can accomplish! For more information on National Health and Fitness Day, as well as tools to help get your community and the rest of Canada moving forward towards being one of the fittest nations on earth, visit NHFDCAN.ca. Don’t forget you can also share your favourite ways to stay healthy and fit by connecting with Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary, and on Instagram.