Physical inactivity is a huge risk factor for heart disease in Canada and a major contributing factor to obesity. Getting the recommended amount of exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes by 30%. And yet about 85% of Canadians do not meet the minimum recommended guidelines for physical activity.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a week, and strengthening exercises 2 days a week for adults. But 6 out of 7 Canadian adults are not meeting these recommendations and are not active enough to gain substantial health benefits from physical activity. Even more alarming is the fact that only 7% of children are meeting the suggested amount of 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity a day.

Exercise increases calories burned, increases your metabolic rate, and can also help control appetite. Exercise brings many health benefits, including lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and lower cholesterol levels. Not only does physical activity improve your physical well-being, but it can also improve your ability to handle or prevent stress, and it can boost your energy level as well.

For adults, the recommended 150 minutes each week can be broken down into shorter periods, but should be at least 10 minutes at a time. You can be physically active in any season. Go for a brisk walk or jog in the spring and summer, bicycling in the fall, and cross-country skiing or indoor swimming in the winter. For further benefits, add muscle and bone strengthening activities that target your major muscle groups at least 2 days each week.

Canada's Physical Activity Guide is a comprehensive reference source for Canadians of all ages, with recommendations for types of activities and amount of exercise required to promote health improvement.

If you're not active enough, here are some tips for getting active:

  • bike or walk to work
  • take a class (e.g., martial arts, dance, fitness)
  • walk after dinner
  • train for a fitness event (e.g., charity run, marathon)
  • start a new sport (e.g., tennis, squash, basketball)

Trying to get children active? Check out the following tips:

  • play tag
  • stay after school to play
  • go for a walk, bike ride, or rollerblade
  • go tobogganing
  • play sports (e.g., soccer, hockey) at or after school

If you're not sure where to start, your doctor may refer you to a health care professional who will help you develop an exercise program suitable for you. Do not start an intense exercise program without checking with your doctor first.