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  • Writer's pictureAlanna Maria

Let's Age Better

While I was on vacation Participaction's latest report card popped into my inbox. Naturally, I opened it to read - I love their report cards and if you know me you know that nachos and active living are a couple of things I love. Well, this post isn't about nachos and the report card hasn't left my mind since reading it. This year they published their first-ever report card on ADULTS - spoiler alert - our grades are nothing to write home about.

You can read the full report here - and I encourage you to. It won't take you long but it will wake you up to the preventative steps (literally) we can take to make the future better and healthier for us and our children. I mean, it's no wonder our children keep getting poor grades for physical activity (you can read the Participaction report on that here) when we aren't getting good grades ourselves. And this isn't about shaming either because I know we all have a lot on our plates and we are all trying our best but I do think if we could make a mindset shift around physical activity that the ripple effects will be felt much wider.

First of all - physical activity is about SO MUCH MORE than the outdated pounds and inches mentality. And all of my love to Participaction for staying away from that diet culture conversation. We all have our reasons for being active and this report card does an excellent job of breaking down some of the biggest reasons to just keep swimming, so to speak. I hope you'll read it, but just in case, Participaction points out (with research to support) that physical activity is critical for developing and maintaining social connections, avoiding injuries that come with age, reducing the chances of dementia to name a few. I have been committed to active living for years and around the time I became a parent my focus on physical activity increased as it became a fundamental principle of our parenting. Raising healthy children matters to us and physical activity plays a huge role in overall health - to me, it is the key ingredient and I've written about that before so I won't digress too far.

Here's what I do think we need to dive into:

How are we going to raise healthy children if we ourselves are not healthy?

How are we going to role model (one of the best ways to influence our children) healthy habits if we aren't performing them?

Guys - it's time we step up. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children and heck, let's do it for the healthcare system too!

I think part of the reason that I just can't shake this from my thoughts is that I have experienced the magic that physical activity can bring to your life.

When my boys were babies I spent many mornings and afternoons walking around the neighbourhood so they would sleep. Inadvertently, I made a whole bunch of friends! It turns out when you get yourself out of your house and active in your neighbourhood you will meet your neighbours - fancy that. Social connections are critical for our health - they help us feel like we belong and that, my friends, is one of our most basic desires - to belong.

My walks also brought me mental happiness. After having my boys I struggled with anxiety and depression and walking became my solace. Walking never fails to perk up my mood and give my brain time to settle down. I've seen this in my boys too - when they start to get worked up and rambunctious there is nothing like a walk or bike outside to get them settled down. This, in turn, gets me out for a walk. See, ripple effect.

I don't walk to lose weight. I will be very clear that my desire to move my body comes solely from the joy I feel while doing it and the feel-goods that follow after I am done. Moving my body is joyful and a gift that I want to make the most of each day. My body feels better when I move it, it's that simple.

What I've learned is that if you get active, the rest follows - friends, happiness, feeling good.

So guys, it's on us and it's time to make a change. If you are already hitting the guidelines high-five, that's awesome - invite a friend to join you and increase your sphere of influence. Participaction graded Canadian adults on thirteen indicators - again, I hope you'll check the full report out - here are some ways we can change things:

1- Daily Movement: Get a minimum of 7500 steps per day, period. Park further away, take the stairs, indulge your children in a nature walk - get moving.

2- Moderate to Vigorous Activity: Get your heart pumping for at least 150 minutes per week. Give your heart some love and get it pumping more often - walk faster, go for a jog, join a fitness class, do some jumping jacks - get moving faster.

3- Get Together: Invite your friends to join! According to the report card, 1 in 5 Canadians report feeling lonely - that's too many people feeling isolated or alone - and it's a growing trend. Get moving together.

Age is only a number and we have the power to influence how we feel while we age. We have an opportunity to age better for our brains, for our bodies and for our mental state. And in doing that, we have an opportunity to age better for our children by offering them critical influence for healthy living.

For more resources and ways to get moving check out the Participaction website or just get up and go!

- lovefrommaris

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