Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines

By R.C. Goode

Recently the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology and the Canadian Public Health Association (2007) published a consensus report for the future on the role of physical activity in health.

Warburton and his colleagues report that there was a 44% lower five year death rate in subjects who improved from “unfit”(low ability to use oxygen) to “fit”(high ability to use oxygen). “Fitness”, the ability to use oxygen, is suggested to be a stronger predictor of coronary vascular disease than physical activity. This was a question asked of Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, an epidemiologist whose career focused on the role of activity in health – it was hoped that physical activity would be as important as your fitness level. Some 50% or higher of your ability to use oxygen is inherited. If low it would seem very important for those individuals to be active and increase their ability to use oxygen to its potential.

The authors think it is likely that if sedentary persons increase their activity they will become fitter (develop an increased ability to use oxygen).

There is some question about the intensity of activity and the work of Morris is cited (see Patterson et al). Reduced risk came from vigorous activities and sports “a lot of fairly brisk walking or cycling” --there was not a great deal of benefit in ordinary walking, gardening or chores.

Patterson concluded that large muscle activity (mainly activity that uses our legs) is required and individuals should be advised to take up activities that are moderate in intensity to moderately vigorous (see Talk Test and Breath Sound Check, How Fast Should I Go”, Google). “Effort at 50% of your maximum ability to use oxygen (V02max) does not seem an insurmountable request.” The goal of individuals should be to be moderately vigorous for a half hour to one hour every other day.

CSEP-CPHA,.2007. Advancing physical activity measurement and guidelines in Canada: a scientific review and evidence-based foundation for the future of Canadian physical activity guidelines, Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. ed. R.J. Shephard, 32 (Suppl.2E) S1-S224.

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