In 2015, 37.1% of the Northern BC population was classified as inactive, while females in the North have a rate 3% higher than males. Those living in the North are at an even greater risk with higher rates of inactivity than the rest of the provincial average of 35.3%.
Inactivity has a lot of negative side effects, including worsening physical function, onset of chronic diseases, and low mood. Reducing this trend sooner rather than later will improve physical and mental well-being, reduce chronic diseases, and overall quality of life.
On October 26, 2018, over 80 enthusiastic people from across Northern BC attended the 2018 Physical Activity Summit – Move the North in Prince George. Hosted in partnership between UNBC, WINBC, and Northern Health, the summit was an opportunity for community partners, municipalities, non-profit organizations, and physical activity service providers to share strategies and programs to get people active.
Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions to discuss barriers to physical activity and ways different participant groups could get people active. They looked at physical activity strategies, collaboration opportunities, how they can be implemented in Northern BC, and any supports, expertise, or resources required.
UNBC Researcher Dr. Chelsea Pelletier and her local team of researchers, health care decision-makers, and patient partners are using the results from the 2018 Physical Activity Summit to build a physical activity research framework for Northern BC which will determine next steps for the development of PA promotions.
One of the presentations at the summit from the Village of Fraser Lake showcased their commitment to getting people active and healthy. Representatives from Fraser Lake shared their commitment to meeting citizens needs and abilities by having a variety of seasonal activities. Currently, they offer a wide range of recreation activities including hiking, pickleball, senior crafts, balance/chair exercises, volleyball, roller ball hockey, and much more. As their recreation programs continue to grow, they are looking to add even more programs including dance lessons, canoeing, kayaking, basketball clinics, survival camps, and more. These opportunities get people moving and better yet, connected to each other and to their community. Once people begin participating, they often continue as it is a fun way to connect with each other.
The task of setting up such programs or events can be daunting, but as the different presenters shared, committed community members can make it possible. The Morfee Lake Scramble in Mackenzie, FitNation program in Smithers, and Active Health Solutions in Prince George are all shining examples of what can be accomplished while having a huge community impact.
Physical activity is described by the World Health Organization as any bodily movement that requires using energy. This includes walking, running, biking or weight lifting. The Canadian physical activity guidelines suggest children and youth need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Adults require at least 150 minutes per week of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and activities that strengthen muscles and bones. Many people do not meet the daily requirements for physical activity.
There are many things we can do to get healthy and reduce the negative impacts that come from inactivity. Get involved with sports or recreation teams, go for daily bike rides or walks, join seniors’ classes, or join your local community association. The options are endless and can make a huge difference in your overall health and well-being, and make you feel like a bigger part of your community.
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