Letnick: Physical activity does not have to be arduous

Be proud of every small step you take towards improving your lifestyle.

One of my previous columns, noting Kelowna’s low obesity rate, focused on some of the ways government is working to support healthy nutrition choices.

But physical activity is another important piece of the health puzzle.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are numerous benefits to being active, whether you’re eight or 80.

Physical activity reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and several cancers, as well as other health conditions.

Staying active is also good for your mental health. It builds positive self-esteem, improves your mood and reduces stress.

For seniors, physical activity builds stronger muscles and can help reduce the risk of falls which are a tremendous health concern. One in three British Columbians over the age of 65 will fall once every year, and these incidents are the main reason why older adults lose their independence.

That said, seniors should assess their level of muscle weakness and physical activity before starting any new routine. Ask yourself:

• Do I exercise less than three times a week for 15-20 minutes?

• Do I find it difficult to exercise due to arthritis, heart problems or other conditions?

• Have I been inactive for more than a few weeks?

• Do I experience stiffness when moving, or muscle weakness?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be at an increased risk for falling and it is important to seek guidance from a health care professional. This is especially true if you have a medical condition, as you may require a supervised program involving a physiotherapist, nurse or fitness leader.

If your doctor has given you the go-ahead to increase your level of physical activity, the website www.seniorsbc.ca is a great resource for health and wellness topics. The Active Aging tab will lead you to helpful information on how to safely increase your level of physical activity.

Kids are no exception. While some children are always on the go, parents of less active kids need to find creative ways to insert small amounts of activity into each day. Dance to music together after getting out of bed, walk the dog or play a quick game of catch after dinner. These are great ways for busy parents to keep active as well.

Personally, it’s been a challenge for me to stay active during the busy month of August. I’ve logged more than 6,000 kilometres driving

around the province talking to farmers, ranchers and others about how we can continue growing agriculture in B.C. That’s nearly a month behind the wheel. I committed to a five-minute routine of tummy rotations and contractions every 30 minutes. It helped keep me physically active on the road.

So be proud of every small step you take towards improving your lifestyle, and remember to take a few minutes each day to relax and think of something positive. Your body and mind will thank you.

Kelowna Capital News