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  • Writer's pictureDr. Elliott Perkins

Let's Get Physical

Most Canadians are familiar with the Canada's Food Guide. Recently updated, the confusing, hard to follow rainbow was replaced with a much more easy to follow guide: eat food, not too much, plenty of vegetables and lean protein. Simple!

There is another guide out there that is equally as important, but often overlooked. this is the Physical Activity Guideline. Exercise is good, and anyone who has visited me at my office knows that I recommend exercise and physical activity as the number 1 treatment for many types of pain. But how much do we need to start reaping the benefits?

The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. This activity can take various forms, like a 20 minute walk a day, or twice weekly weight lifting. And yet, the vast majority of people in Canada do not meet these recommendations! only 4% of children aged 12-17 meet the recommendation, and 82% of adults from age 18-79 fall short. This is a lot of time spent sitting by a lot of people, and a very low hanging fruit to pick to improve your health.

Physical activity has what we call a dose-response relationship to health. This means that more is better, but even a little bit is better than none. The more active you become the more your health will benefit. Hitting 55 moderate to vigorous minutes of physical activity a week is protective against future disability and mobility issues, and even 5 minutes of exercise at a time can result in improvements in health! (think of this as an exercise snack. who doesn't like snacks?)

If you are looking to make a change for the better, start spending more time moving. But don't feel intimidated, or that you have to rush into 150 minutes per week. Something is better than nothing. start low, go slow, and work your way up.

Pick something you enjoy! It will feel like less of a chore when you are actually having fun being active. Making these small changes in your lifestyle can give you big changes in your health. You won't regret it.

Fig. 1: having a blast

For a fun infographic click HERE

And for a more in-depth dive into the science, check out this article at

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