Getting active

Winter may be fine for a few months, but as we all know in Central Alberta, by the time spring comes around we are more than ready to shed the warm clothes, enjoy the sun and (hopefully) a few pleasant summer months.

This weekend, there will be some family-friendly activities at the Family Amazing Race event hosted by Red Deer College’s Be Fit for Life Centre. It runs at Bower Ponds on Saturday, with things getting underway at 1 p.m.

It’s a great activity for families, and one of the most important goals of the day organizers say is to encourage higher activity levels among families and children.

That’s an extremely important aim, as a recent report points to climbing obesity rates amongst citizens in this country.

According to a University of British Columbia study, overall obesity rates across Canada have “climbed to historic highs since 2002.” It seems like this is something health officials have been sounding the alarm about for quite some time, but obviously the message isn’t getting through.

And it’s too serious a message not to tune into, with obesity often leading to severe health issues such as diabetes and stroke.

According to the study, in 2003, 22.3% of the population was estimated to be obese, and that percentage has climbed to an average of 25.3%.

Those behind the study did point out that rates were relatively stable from 2008 to 2011, but they are still going up. The UBC study backs up what was found in a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which found that one in four people are obese in Canada.

And it’s not just here at home. According to that report, obesity continues to rise in nations where high-caloric intake and sedentary behaviour is highest.

Officials also point out that it doesn’t take much in the way of smarter eating and boosting activity to make a real difference. And the time to instill those kinds of habits is when the citizens of this country are in their youth.

Children should be encouraged to play, be active and be steered away from countless hours in front of the TV or computer screens.

Obviously, we all should be encouraged to get off the couch and get outside. No one is saying gym membership is an absolute must. But even an after-dinner walk can make a profound difference.

Exercise has multiple benefits from helping to control weight to lower blood pressure to helping keep cholesterol levels in check to improving mood and cutting stress.

This is why events like what is planned for this Saturday at Bower Ponds are so essential. If we can just make getting active a bit more of a habit, we are well on our way to enjoying the plentiful benefits that come right along with it.