Do Canadians nonetheless must lean on the 5 pillars of health?

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Aerobic conditioning, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, and body composition should all be considered in training routines, but not always to the same extent.

Author of the article:

Jill Barker

Publication date:

01/09/202239 minutes ago4 minutes read Join the conversation A fit body is strong and flexible with enough stamina to cope with the physical challenges of everyday life, be it taking out the trash or throwing a curling stone. Photo by John Lappa /Mail media

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At a time of year when many Canadians are reviewing their training commitments, it’s understandable if you don’t know how best to get fit. With headline after headline recommending everything from high-intensity interval training to walking, fitness is no longer that easy to define.

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Ask your GP and he will likely prescribe enough exercise for you to promote health, manage stress, and recharge your energy stores. Ask a trainer and they will talk about the benefits of weight training and send you to the weight room. Then there’s the long list of personal goals that encompass everything from losing weight to running a marathon to reaching a curling skirt with ease. With this variety of goals, not to mention the variety of Canadians, is there really a workout routine that meets all of the criteria? Or is fitness more nuanced than working up a sweat a few days a week?

Traditional definitions of fitness list five different components: aerobic conditioning, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, and body composition – each of which should be considered when designing an exercise program. In recent years, however, experts have questioned whether flexibility and body composition (the percentage of lean mass compared to fat mass) are still relevant measures of fitness for the general population. After all, how important is it to touch your toes when it comes to general fitness? And do you really have to be slim to be fit?

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In addition, most people do not have the time or inclination to take full advantage of all five components of fitness. Instead, they tend to focus primarily on those who match their goals or interests. Runners run, walkers, swimmers swim, cyclists cycle, group gymnastics junkies take part in fitness classes and the weight room set lifts.

Don’t get me wrong – there are benefits to improving all of the traditional elements of fitness. A fit body is strong and flexible with enough stamina to cope with the physical challenges of everyday life, be it taking out the garbage, chasing after the children or throwing a curling stone from one end of the ice rink to the other. But the reality is that most Canadians don’t even meet the most basic fitness recommendations – which, according to the World Health Organization, means they get 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. In fact, conversations with fitness and health professionals have shifted from developing all five components of fitness to simply reducing sedentary behavior.

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ParticipACTION, the Canadian physical activity promotion agency, has tried to clarify what it means to be fit by updating their exercise regimen. It recommends that “adults aged 18-64 years of age participate in a range of physical activities (e.g., weight loading / non-loading, exercise and recreation) in a variety of settings (e.g., home / work / community; indoor / outdoors; land / water) and contexts (e.g. leisure, traffic, job, household) across all seasons. ”The organization also suggests that“ Adults restrict long-term sedentary behaviors and practice healthy sleep hygiene (routines, behaviors and Environments that are conducive to a good sleep). “

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Despite this more holistic approach to getting fit, ParticipACTION has not given up the concept of different fitness components. It recommends Canadians do 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week, exercise twice a week, and gain several hours of light physical activity, including standing, per week. In assessing the fitness of Canadians, the group also uses metrics such as the time we spend on light physical activity, moderate to vigorous physical activity, muscle-strengthening activities, balance activities, active locomotion, exercise, and our daily step count.

You can’t go wrong by following ParticipACTION’s guidelines, which aim to improve the general physical and mental health of Canadians, including lower risk of death, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and various cancers ; improved bone health, cognition, and quality of life; and reduces anxiety, depression and dementia. But for those with specific fitness goals – like running a marathon, improving speed and agility on the tennis court, or increasing strength by 10 percent – it’s likely that your training will require a little more direction and specificity from the original components of fitness.

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The most effective exercise routines are strategic and incorporate the pillars of fitness – prioritizing those that are best for your individual goals, but not forgetting the rest entirely. At the end of the day, the best test of your general fitness is not just achieving your personal goals, but mastering any physical challenge. This includes the only Canadian fitness test that really counts: the muscular strength and stamina to lift shovel-by-shovel wet, heavy snow, the cardiovascular condition to clear the entire driveway without a break, and the flexibility to put on and winter boots take off with ease.

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