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

Seniors in Williams Lake visit in the Seniors Activity Centre parking lot during a summer coffee house held during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Turkey ‘Dinner Out the Door’ coming up Nov. 7 at seniors centre

Derksen added in-town delivery is also available by calling 250-392-7946

North District RCMP are urging the public’s assistance in locating Prince George resident Amber Weutz, 25, last seen Oct. 18 in the Canim Mahood Lake area east of 100 Mile House. (Photo submitted)
RCMP release more information on missing Prince George woman

Amber Weutz, 25, was last seen in the Canim and Mahood Lake area on Oct. 18

Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune
SLIDESHOW: Nesika celebrates Halloween with costume parade, dance

Classes took turns within their own cohorts taking part in each event

The Williams Lake Skating Club is thrilled to introduce new coach Brenda Boulin (right) to its team. Boulin joins head coach Joanne Macnair (centre) and coach Breanna Davidson. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake Skating Club welcomes new coach to team

WLSC longtime head coach Joanne Macnair is thrilled to welcome Brenda Boulin back home

While the weather in Williams Lake wreaked havoc on roads and flooded homes this week, the swans didn’t seem to mind it at all. (David Fait photo)
Waterlogged: Williams Lake downright soggy after days of rain

October has seen an unusual amount of rain fall in the Cariboo this year

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

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

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read