Last week, Statistics Canada (StatsCan) released results from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), the most comprehensive study ever conducted in Canada to determine fitness levels. This study looked at Canadians’ health through their physical measurements, cardio-respiratory fitness, muskuloskeletal fitness, and their blood pressure over the past two decades. The results are staggering, but are they really suprising?
Send the kids outside to play
Since 1981, the youth aged 15-19 who had a waist circumference that put them at a high or increased risk for health problems more than tripled. For young adults aged 20-29, the percentage in this category more than quadrupled. More than 17% of children today are overweight, and 9% are obese. With the invention and subsequent popularity of the internet, video games, and reality television, this is nothing we’re not already aware of. But it’s definitely not something that should be ignored. This can lead to diabetes, heart attacks, and hypertension – even in children. Limit your child’s sedentary time and get them involved in physical activities – sign them up for a sport they like, ride your bikes together, or go swimming. Check out the children’s fitness directory from Help! We’ve Got Kids. for exercise programs in Toronto.
Canada is getting fatter
As for the adults, less than 38% of Canadians are at a healthy weight. About 1% are underweight, 37% are overweight, and 24% are obese. More men than women are overweight, but the obesity rate is fairly equal. The percentage of young adults whose body compositions were rated as “fair/needs improvement” rose fourfold among men over the past two decades, and sevenfold among women.
The good news
One good tidbit of health information came from this study: More than 90% of Canadian adults have acceptable blood pressure. Only 6.4% (less than 1.6 million people) have high blood pressure – but 3% of these people were completely unaware of this! This is significant because the study found that high blood pressure only gets worse with age, and according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, is the number one risk factor for a stroke, and a major risk factor for heart disease.
What can you do?
Start now. Begin a new exercise program, even if it’s just going for a brisk walk every day. Find healthy recipes online and limit your trips to fast food restaurants.
And don’t forget to involve the whole family! Starting healthy habits with your kids will help them to continue living a long and healthy life.