Canada’s population is aging. For the first time in Canada’s history, adults over the age of 65 make up a larger percentage of our population than those aged 15 and under. With the proportion of older adults in Canada growing faster than ever before, the toll of physical inactivity will be felt on our health-care system, our communities and our economy more heavily than ever experienced. Simply put, we’re not setting ourselves up for success when it comes to growing old. The good news is that it’s possible to age better by being physically active!
Recently released in October, ParticipACTION’s first-ever Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults shows that even though 8 in 10 adults think physical inactivity is a serious health issue, only a shocking 16% meet the national guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week. Sedentary (non-moving) time increases with age and older adults (65+) are spending the most time being inactive. This is of major concern since physical inactivity can lead to increased risk of chronic diseases, cognitive decline, slips and falls and social isolation among older adults.
The Adult Report Card shows that Canadians need to make physical activity a key part of their everyday routines in order to stay strong in mind and body, maintain mobility and build relationships. Three of the biggest benefits of regular physical activity for older adults include:
- Staying on your feet. As we age, natural changes like slowed reaction times and decreased muscle and bone strength contribute to an increase in falls. Engaging in activities like strength training or tai chi can help you meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines and improve balance, core strength and stability, which help prevent falls and fall-related injuries.
- Staying cognitively strong. Age is the primary risk factor for dementia and a recent report projects it will affect close to 1.4 million adults in Canada by 2031. Research shows that being physically active can help protect against the onset of dementia and slow its progression. Regular brain stimulation with physical activity can extend our years of strong brain health.
- Staying connected. 1 in 5 adults in Canada experience some level of loneliness or isolation and older adults are at higher risk due to a lack of mobility and shrinking social networks. Making time to get active each day with others builds social connections and enhances community engagement.
The bottom line is we can’t stop aging, but we can age better with physical activity. For more information visit: www.participaction.com.
Content for this article is from the 2019 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults.