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Living an Active Life

WHY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MATTERS

Around the world, people are becoming less and less physically active. The World Health Organization reports that adults require at least 150 minutes of moderately-intense physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorously-intense physical activity each week for optimal health. Not meeting these recommended amounts of physical activity increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain cancers. How can we all live more actively to ensure that we’re meeting these recommended amounts of physical activity? Why should we? Let’s dive in. 

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE OUTDOORS

There are many benefits to being physically active outdoors. Being active outside can present a greater physical challenge because your body has to keep up with a changing environment (ex: hills). Plus, you benefit from the fresh air and (hopefully) receive your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun! Vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones and reducing the risk of diabetes. Furthermore, exercising outdoors can help lower stress. Studies show it’s best to be active in the morning as we have more energy at this time. Starting the day off with physical activity can put you in a great mood for the rest of the day!

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EXERCISING FEEDS THE BRAIN

The hippocampus—a structure in the brain that plays an important role in learning and forming memories—is very responsive to physical activity that stimulates the heart and lungs. Studies show that the hippocampus actually gets bigger the more active you are! A healthy amount of physical activity can also help you focus and stay on task. Additionally, 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking three times a week can help fend off the mental wear and tear and delay the onset of dementia. A lack of physical activity can increase your risk of developing mental health problems.

 
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THE MEDIA AND BODY IMAGE

The term ‘body image’ refers to how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us. While people of all ages feel the pressure to meet unrealistic body standards, youth are most vulnerable. Traditionally, the media has only presented one kind of body, resulting in the creation of  these unrealistic standards. How can we build healthy relationships with our bodies and encourage positive self-esteem? Some of my favourite suggestions are to show gratitude towards your body for what it is and how it serves you, interrupt negative thoughts about your body with messages of self-love and kindness, and to pay attention to what your body needs.

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TO BE CONTINUED

To continue exploring how we can all live more actively, Engage Nova Scotia will be releasing an interview with Crystal Watson, Executive Director of Recreation Nova Scotia. In the meantime, join the conversation by submitting a comment below!

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