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

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

NAV CANDA is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization is conducting a service review at Castlegar’s airport

Black Press file photo
UPDATED: Town of Creston launches curbside consultation campaign

Data will be collected until Nov. 9 and will be used to create a guide for town council to help decide them how to shape the curbside waste collection program

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The Creston and District Community Complex. File photo
Creston Valley Farmers’ Market moving indoors on Nov. 7

The market will be held in the rec centre’s Creston room and will have a maximum capacity of 91 people, which includes staff, vendors and customers

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never-before-seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Most Read