A runner makes their way along a pathway as fog blankets the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. New fitness guidelines urge adults to limit screen time and sedentary behaviour while finding ways to stay active, even amid the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A runner makes their way along a pathway as fog blankets the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. New fitness guidelines urge adults to limit screen time and sedentary behaviour while finding ways to stay active, even amid the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

New guidelines urge adults to cap screen time, sedentary behaviour even in pandemic

Adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity

New fitness guidelines urge adults to limit screen time and sedentary behaviour while finding ways to stay active, even amid the pandemic.

Public health and academic experts say it’s more important than ever to get enough sleep and exercise as COVID-19 upends daily routines, finances, social lives and individual health.

Several groups, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and ParticipACTION, have combined forces to release 24-hour movement guidelines that spell out how people aged 18 to 64 should split their time on various levels of activities, hoping detailed tips can make it easier to increase healthy activities and decrease poor habits.

Guideline chair Robert Ross, who is also a Queen’s University kinesiology professor, acknowledges the pandemic has made it harder for some people to remain active but says any activity is better than none.

“How you spend your entire day matters. So if you are physically active, good for you. If you can’t be physically active but you’re decreasing sedentary time and you’re getting good quality sleep, good for you,” says Ross, encouraging Canadians to adapt the guidelines to their circumstances.

“It’s providing Canadians options to improve their health.”

The breakdown devotes seven to nine hours to sleep and caps sedentary time to eight hours — including no more than three hours of recreational screen time. Those older than 65 should get seven to eight hours of sleep.

The rest of the day should be spent being active, much of which can be “light physical activities” such as standing and casual walking.

However, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, and work on muscle strength at least twice a week. Those older than 65 should also work on improving their balance.

Ross says the guidelines are especially timely as many Canadians grapple with increased anxiety and stress wrought by the pandemic, noting that a balanced lifestyle can also improve depression, dementia, cognition and quality of life.

At the same time, regular movement lowers risk of death, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, improved bone health and several cancers.

“Two very strong determinants of COVID that have been identified early are obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” says Ross.

“If you follow these guidelines, all that (you do) will mitigate the very risk factors that are associated with COVID.”

READ MORE: Canadians spend more money and time online during COVID pandemic

Along with PHAC and ParticipACTION, the guidelines were developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Queen’s University, and a network of researchers and stakeholders from across Canada.

While past guidelines have focused on 24-hour schedules for younger groups including babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children, this guideline is the first to look at adults.

Even before COVID-19, adults received a grade of “D” for overall physical activity according to the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults.

Ross suspected many Canadians are even less active now, but notes the tips don’t require money, equipment or services to achieve, suggesting improved fitness can come from activities as simple as a neighbourhood walk, household chores, going up and down stairs and breaking up the time spent seated.

“Not all Canadians (who) view the guidelines will be able, capable, or willing to do any one of them everyday,” he acknowledges.

“One day you just couldn’t be as physically active as you want, but you reduced your sedentary time. Perfect. You couldn’t reduce your sedentary time so you … lengthen your walk around the block, or you walk your dog a little longer…. It’s not just one guideline. It’s an integration of movement behaviours that coexist in the whole day.”

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusFitness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Suspect arrested after armed robbery in downtown Castlegar

Victim was allegedly threatened with knife and bear spray

The Skinny Genes Foundation is raising awareness and funds for a rare genetic disorder that claimed both his father and uncle.
NHL players, local businesses help Kootenay man raise funds and awareness for rare genetic disease

Signed NHL jerseys and local business donations up for auction in Skinny Genes Foundation fundraiser

(file photo)
Nomination packages available for Castlegar byelection

The mayor’s seat and one council seat will be on the ballot

Columbia Avenue Redevelopment — Phase 2 will begin in February. Image: City of Castlegar
Construction on the Columbia Avenue Redevelopment Project beginning March 1

Crews will be clearing brush and trees and removing asphalt

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read