Move for Health Day promotes physical activity

Damage from deconditioning can be reversed

We were made to move.

When we don’t, our health suffers. When we do, we thrive.

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World Health Organization’s Move for Health Day takes place May 10, and around the world we’re promoting physical activity. Why? Regular physical activity is essential for both physical health and emotional wellbeing, but people around the world are becoming more sedentary.

Many equate exercise and physical activity with sports. They can’t see themselves jumping and running around because they’ve never been athletes. Yet our bodies were really meant to move. Through evolution, the human form adapted to environments demanding physical activity and fitness.

Technology has made it easier for us not to move, and as a result, our health suffers. Most of us don’t have to go out to the forest with a bow and arrow to hunt for our dinner, nor do we cultivate and gather our own fruit and vegetables.

It’s easier to drive to the grocery store or drive through McDonald’s. Our bodies were designed for environments where food was scarce and we conserved calories. It’s become too easy to consume more than we can burn off.

When you don’t use your body in the ways for which it was designed, it will become deconditioned. Muscles not used atrophy and become weak. Joints not moved through their full range of motion stiffen and contract. A heart not challenged becomes weaker. Blood vessels narrow, impairing the flow of blood and nutrients to every part of the body, including the brain.

The sedentary body loses agility, flexibility and balance. This can result in more frequent falls, and with a deconditioned body, the recovery is slow.

The up side is that much of the damage of deconditioning can be reversed with increased physical activity. At first, it feels like work, especially to our brains that tend to stick to routines and habits, but over a relatively short period of time — just one or two months, the habit of being physically active becomes easier. You will have created a new routine and you’ll already begin to feel the benefits of feeling more fit — physically and emotionally.

If you’re thinking of improving your health and your sense of wellbeing by becoming more active today, jump on board with the rest of us next month as we celebrate Move for Health Day and the Doctors of B.C.’s Walk With Your Doc events. On Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m., I’ll be the emcee for the Doctors of B.C.’s annual Walk With Your Doc at Kitsilano Beach Park.

To celebrate Move for Health Day in Burnaby on Tuesday, May 10, I’ll be presenting a talk, “We Were Made to Move,” at 1 p.m. at the Edmonds Community Centre and again at 5:45 p.m. at the Confederation Community Centre (to be followed at 6:15 p.m. with an easy Walk With Your Doc around the Confederation Park track). You’ll learn about the benefits of exercise, how it can improve your enjoyment of life and your ability to do everyday activities, and how you can make daily physical activity a new healthy habit. All members of the public of any age are welcome to join our team of Burnaby doctors as we walk the talk. Each participant at the walks will also get a free pedometer (while quantities last).

To find out about Move for Health Day and events close to you, check out your local community centre or the events page at B.C. Recreation and Parks Association’s website bcrpa.bc.ca. To learn more about Walk With Your Doc events in every community, check walkwithyourdoc.ca.

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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