Less excercise a weighty issue
By Kaila Sept
Young adults are avoiding a daily workout more than ever and it seems as if the growing trend of a busy lifestyle is to blame.
Obesity rates are on the rise, according to a Statistics Canada study released in January. People aged 20 to 39 have nearly quadrupled their risk for serious health problems in 2009 compared to 1981. The reason? Fitness rates in Canada’s population are declining. Jill Parnell, an assistant professor of nutrition at Mount Royal University, said she believes there are many reasons that people are avoiding a daily workout.
“Nowadays, people don’t have a lot of time. They get up, go to work and go home,” Parnell said. “People also don’t have access to convenient places to walk here in Calgary and the amount of computer and TV use has gone up.”
The study is based on a number of fitness tests and other measures, which go beyond body-mass index to include aerobic tests, blood pressure measurements, waist-circumference and skin-fold measurements. The study suggests that only 38 per cent of people 20 to 39 are living at a healthy weight, while 37 per cent are overweight and 24 per cent are labelled obese. Fitness levels have decreased for Canadians, with only 32 per cent of people aged 15 to 69 categorized as having a “good health benefit level, based on their aerobic fitness ratings.”
Parnell said that a student’s busy lifestyle can make it difficult to stick with healthy choices and often people opt for a quick and convenient snack, which may be high in calories, another possible reason for the rise in obesity levels.
“When people don’t have time to make a lunch, they often buy one and portion sizes are much larger at restaurants now,” Parnell said. “People bring microwavable food to school a lot as well, and that usually isn’t a very healthy choice.”
Mya Manion, a third-year interior design student at Mount Royal, said that she finds it difficult to fit in time to go to the gym.
“It really depends on work and school. I can usually fit the gym in once or twice a week, for about 45 minutes at a time,” Manion said. “A lot more is expected from students now and it’s really hard to find time to fit it in.”
Manion said she wishes that she had more time to go and work out, because it is a great way to relieve the stress she feels from school every day.
“Coming from a very stressful program, the gym helps,” Manion said. “I think people just need to plan out their schedules with a break specifically for going to the gym. That might help get people motivated to go.”
Parnell said that the key to a healthier community is to begin changing the way people think.
“We need to value physical activity and physical education,” Parnell said. “There is a concern for fitness and the priority we put on it. Children should be taught at a young age the importance of being active and everyone should learn about which foods are the healthiest and how to read nutrition labels in order to stay in shape and healthy.”