Canadians are walking themselves to better health with this exercise

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Canadians truly want to get into shape! But a new national survey shows that, for many, it has been a struggle: We’re bored of the routines, the results and the plateaus. Canadians are also tired of dealing with all those unwanted pandemic pounds that piled on during the recent lockdowns, but are finding regular fitness routines failing.

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Yet, if there’s one exercise that shines in its popularity in helping Canadians get back into shape – it’s walking, overshadowing other sports and fitness routines.

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According to a recent Angus Reid study on exercise habits of Canadians, 86% of Canadians walk as a form of exercise – a minimum of one or two times a week.

“We conducted this survey to get a benchmark on Canadian fitness and wellness behaviours, likes and dislikes,” said Shelagh Stoneham, fitness expert and founder of Power WearHouse fitness wear, who conducted the recent survey. “What this survey shows, is that despite great intentions and good follow through, people are not getting the results they seek,” added Stoneham, in a recent media release. “While many Canadians are active, their bodies are plateauing (often mentally and physically) and adjusting to the law of diminishing returns.”

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Stoneham says that, “not only can we see that Canadians are motivated to exercise, but the results highlight their frustrations, and where there is room for improvement.”

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The study shows there are several challenges: “A stunning 43% of Canadians still feel gross using shared equipment,” noted the study. “Additionally, more than half struggle fitting their walking and/or fitness  routines into their schedule, 41% are bored with their current routine and 46% are sick and tired of trying to lose their ‘COVID pounds.’”

Walking is so good for you, yet many overlook its healthy benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, “physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated (and) something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.” The benefits of walking are vast – it helps you maintain a healthy weight, lose body fat, and can help prevent or manage various medical conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, to name a few things. Walking helps strength your bones and muscles. Plus, it increases energy levels, strengthens your immune system and helps reduce stress and tension, notes the medical experts at Mayo, adding that walking also increases your endurance while helping burn calories.

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“The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits,” notes the website.

There’s more. The Arthritis Foundation notes that walking improves your circulation, while shoring up your bones, strengthens your muscles – and helps you get some sleep. “A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped,” notes the site.

So – join the rest of Canada for a healthy stroll. Start with a walk around the block and go from there. Before you know it, you’ll be in better shape before winter starts knocking on your door!


Walking slows down mental decline

A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17% decline in memory, as opposed to a 25% decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.

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Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk

A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who walked less.


Shelagh Stoneham.
Shelagh Stoneham. Photo by supplied /Shelagh Stoneham

Walking to a healthier you

In a recent Q&A with Shelagh Stoneham, given her expertise in the fitness industry, we asked for her opinion on Canadians and their struggles to get fit:

Q: Are Canadians in worse physical shape post-pandemic?

A: That is a difficult question to accurately measure. But it is one we have attempted to gauge by conducting this survey. Our study shows that almost eight-in-10 adults exercise regularly, and only five per cent do not exercise at all. StatsCan reports that youth 12-17 reported less physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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For many people, the sudden change of routine brought on by the pandemic made it harder to stick to habits, including fitness regimen. Nevertheless, old gym habits die hard.

Q: Why do you think it’s so difficult for Canadians to get fit? (apart from the obvious as mentioned)

A: It’s a mixed bag. Clearly, Canadians love walking. But there are challenges we all face, especially the daily time constraints. A solid work/life balance is hard to ensure for uber busy people who often have to run home after work, relieve a sitter, make dinner, or study.

Also, there’s the principle of diminishing returns. The more your body gets used to a particular physical activity, the harder it gets to continue to progress. A fitness plateau is when any progress a person makes (getting stronger, building muscle, burning calories, losing weight) is essentially halted. In order to see further results a person must adapt or modify their fitness routine.

The 10-year trend in physical fitness among Canadian adults shows that their fitness levels have stabilized over the past 10 years, albeit at low levels.

Q: If there was one solid piece of advice you would give, what would it be?

A: Start with an activity you enjoy. That is the key to success. Walking, biking, weight training, are all popular and effective – anything that gets a person up and moving and keeps them motivated is the key. Continue to challenge yourself so you avoid that plateau.


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