by David Baxter
The Canadian Society of Exercise and Physiology wants to get more people off the couch by making the amount of recommended exercise easier to obtain. On Monday, Jan. 24 CSEP will officially announce their recommendations for changing Canadian physical activity guidelines to match those of the World Health Organization.
These changes would lower the recommended amounts of physical activity for adults from 60 minutes a day to 150 minutes a week, 90 minutes a day to 60 minutes for children, and 30 to 60 minutes a day to 150 minutes of moderate activity for seniors.
“It’s a double-edged sword so to speak,” said Darren Candow, associate professor of kinesiology and health studies at the University of Regina. “I can see the argument on both sides. My worry with coming out and reducing the recommendation is that at some point down the road some people may think that no activity is beneficial, whereas the other individuals will say I understand it’s tough to get 60 minutes of exercise, but 10 to 15 minutes is okay.”
Michael Lindenbach, regional manager of Gold’s Gym in Regina, has been working in the health and fitness business for 12 years. He believes that CSEP’s recommendation will not encourage people to exercise more. However, he does have an idea for a program that could motivate people to exercise.
“People put up these guidelines, but there’s no driving force implementing it. No incentives. I think things could be better focused on incentives for exercise, such as tax cuts, tax credits, incentives from employers, incentives from the government,” Lindenbach said. “They’ve got an idea, 30 minutes (of exercise), so what? Where’s the implementation? Where’s the incentive? Where’s the encouragement? Show me that.”
Patrick Neary, professor of kinesiology and health studies at the U of R, is another critic of CSEP’s recommendation. For a healthy lifestyle Neary recommends people start with 20 minutes of exercise, two or three days a week, and gradually increase the amount of exercise to meet their fitness level.
“Once you find that you’re doing that on a religious basis and enjoying it, then you could go up to four days a week, etc. I think the most important thing is just to get started. You know you’re not going to see huge changes initially. Change is going to take some time,” said Neary.
“Those with really high BMI and the obese die sooner, so the fatter you are the sooner you die,” Neary warned.
Student reaction was mixed. “I think the decreased hours would be more accessible for people, but I don’t think someone who doesn’t exercise will start exercising because of this,” student Kendra Baraniski said.
“We’re not advocating that people get the minimum amount of exercise in the guidelines,” said Marry Duggan, manager at CSEP’s Ottawa headquarters in response to the critics. “We made these guidelines based off the research showing that these numbers are the minimum a person needs for a healthy lifestyle.”
Photos by David Baxter