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

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison hopes for economic recovery plan in upcoming federal budget

Kootenay-Columbia Conservative looking for post-pandemic recovery plan in next week’s Liberal budget

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
RCMP seek help on egging attacks

Someone is egging the Seniors Villa in Sparwood

Michael Yellowlees and his dog, Luna, are walking across Canada. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Scottish man treks across Canada for the trees

Michael Yellowlees is raising money and awareness for the re-wilding of Scotland

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

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

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read