The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines changed last Monday to accommodate new research in the exercise and health field. Previously, the Guidelines recommended 60 minutes of exercise daily to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With the new changes, however, 150 minutes of exercise over the span of seven days is sufficient for an average adult.
Clayton Reynolds, ArtSci ’11 and a personal trainer said the new guidelines are reasonable, as long as it’s intense exercise being done.
“The concern with decreasing so drastically is the attitude shift people would have toward it,” he said. “It makes it seem like it’s less important.”
Reynolds said the guidelines could have some negative implications if used as an optimal example of fitness.
“I’d say people should definitely be exercising as much as they can comfortably in their schedules, as long as you’re not getting stressed out with it,” he said.
For Queen’s students, finding the time for 60 minutes a day might be unrealistic, Reynolds added.
Many people bypass the importance of things like the Canadian Food Guide despite their effectiveness, Reynolds said.
“What you really find in comparing high-end programs is that the information is very similar to what the government is giving you,” he said, referring to professional fitness programs.
There must be a balance of aerobic and strength training activity in any workout regiment, Reynolds said.
“A lot of people I find stick to one, if you incorporate both of those elements it makes a real big improvement,” he said.
“A lot of people forget about flexibility, it’s another really important part of fitness.”
Reynolds said he warms up on the bike or rowing machine, strength trains for the greater part of his workout and ends with stretching.
“I’ve gone through different training techniques as well. I’ve done a lot of experimentation on my own.” Dr. Amy Latimer of the School of Kinesology and Health studies said physical activities should leave people sweating and breathing a bit harder than they would with average activity.
“Vigorous activity would be ones where you start to sweat and feel a little bit out of breath,” she said. “Things like jogging and cross-country skiing.” While aerobic activity is important to fulfill the guidelines, Latimer said strength training is also vital.
“Strength training activities are where you work against a resistance, like lifting weights or moving against an elastic band.”
According to Canadian Physical Activity Guideline, moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking or bike riding, while vigorous-intensity activities include jogging and cross-country skiing. These are the type of activities that are recommended to fulfill the 150 minute a week minimum.
Latimer said there are varying guidelines for children and youth between ages 5 and 17, adults and older adults.
“The recommendation is a minimum amount people should obtain,” Latimer said. “More is better.” Latimer said she believes the guidelines are appropriate for Canada’s fitness standards.
“Developing these [guidelines] is a four-year process based on scientific evidence that shows people who meet and exceed this amount clearly have a number of health benefits,” she said.
Latimer added that the science involved in the changed guidelines is more accurate and population-specific than it was previously. It was adjusted to reflect worldwide standards and set a realistic goal for Canadian adults.
“Because there aren’t a lot of randomized control experiments available, they look for larger samples. The larger the sample the better it is in representing Canadians or another population,” she said.
A larger body of evidence has come along to justify the guidelines’ change, Latimer said.
“There’s been an increase in the number of studies of how active our population is. We’re doing science better and more accurately.” The new guidelines Canada has put in place are influenced by the United Nations World Health Organization.
“An important thing to note is that Canada really has been a leader in developing physical activity guidelines,” Latimer said. “What Canada’s physical activity guidelines are based on is the gold standard internationally.”
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