THE LAST SNOWDROPS of the season

Beware the chair – it’s not your friend

Get up, get moving, get active. And leave the chair at home.

Remember ParticipACTION? It used to be advertised all over the place back in the 80s and 90s. Communities would challenge each other to get the public involved and they had buttons and banners and t-shirts to promote it. It was catchy.

Guess what? It’s still around!

In a much lower key program, they sent out a press release over the weekend for their third annual Sneak It In Weekend, which runs from Apr. 7-11.

It’s a sign of the times that their tips for being active now include things like standing up while on the phone, “power shopping” and grabbing a coffee or lunch a few extra blocks away.

Canadian adults spend at least nine and a half hours per day – almost 70 per cent of their waking hours – being sedentary. Much of this time is spent sitting at work, or in cars commuting to and from work. Excessive time spent sitting increases the risk of diabetes and heart attack, and causes high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, sore backs and foggy brains.

It’s time, they say, to Beware the Chair! The campaign calls on Canadians to “stand up for their health” and take active breaks, and “sneak in” 10-minute increments of physical activity throughout their workdays.

I recall the last ParticipACTION challenge I was involved in – many years ago in Hudson’s Hope. It was organized by the town’s Recreation Director, Martin Dalsin, and encouraged by Mayor Lenore Harwood, who drove around town and wrote down the names of everyone she saw walking or biking or working in their garden or cutting the grass. We had one of the highest participation rates in BC!

The folks at ParticipACTION say that 10-minute bouts of physical activity not only break up sedentary time, but are an effective way to increase fitness and meet the recommended 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity recommended for adults per week. I’m not totally convinced of that, but any activity is better than none.

They recommend regular breaks in order to get out of the chair and stretch, drinking extra water so you have to take frequent breaks to the restroom (!), starting a lunchtime walking group, and walking to the restaurant for lunch or coffee – which many of us do already. Really, what’s the point of driving half a block to the restaurant and then looking for a parking spot?

It’s great to have things for the kids to do, but it’s good to see more adult exercise activities being offered recently. Adults need more motivation than kids do to get moving, and we have more reason to sit.

It’s finally Spring – get out of that chair!

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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