What is physical activity?
Physical activity is any bodily movement that requires energy expenditure. It is an important part of maintaining one’s physical health, as well as mental health. Exercise brings many benefits including:
- Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improved mood
- Social interaction (in group workout activities)
- Increase in energy levels
- Brain health and memory
Canadian Guidelines concerning physical health
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), has created guidelines to promote physical activity. Thus, according to those recommendations, an individual who is between the ages of 18 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week. It is also recommended to increase the benefits by adding more in-depth exercises at least twice a week by focusing on muscle and bone strengthening. On top of that, walking regularly is also recommended.
To better understand the recommendations, it is important to know the types of activity that one can practice. In theory, there are four different types of physical activities: aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening and stretching. Each one of these has its own benefits and can contribute to the betterment of our physical health. (On a side note, stretching is not mentioned in the guideline yet it can also complement the recommendations.)
Main types of activity
Aerobic/ Cardio/ Endurance
Any form of exercise that uses our aerobic metabolism; when the “oxygen is heavily involved in the cellular reactions that provide the body with the energy necessary to perform activity.” In other words activities where your heart rate and breathing increase.
- Stair climbing
- Speed walking
- Jumping Jacks
– mood booster
– strengthen the heart
– strengthen muscles
– improves posture
– weight loss benefits
– can help lower cholesterol
– reduce risk of Diabetes type 2
– improve immune function
Any form of exercise related to our capacity to “move and lift objects”. This type of activity is “measured by how much force you can exert and how much weight you can lift for a short period of time”.
- Resistance Training; Weightlifting
- Resistance Band exercises
- Digging in the garden
– strengthen muscles
– improves muscles’ power & endurance
– enhance body composition (ratio between fat & muscle)
– improves stability
– improves balance
– improves flexibility
Any form of exercise which “increases the strength of specific sites in bones that make up the skeletal system.”
- Jumping rope
- Sports that involve jumping or rapid changes in direction
- impact or tension leading to muscle growth and strength
- increase endurance
- increase muscle mass
- Arm circles
- Hip circles
- Walking lunges
- Leg Swings
- Upper body twist
- increase flexibility
- increase range motion
- increase blood flow
- improves posture
- decrease tension headache
- heal and prevent back pain
- stress relief
However, it is important to note that these guidelines are only recommendations for healthy metabolic function, but the more active we are, the better the results!
To know more, you can take a look at the 24-Hours Movement Guidelines for an idea of how an ideal day would look like.
Relationship between physical activity and mental health
One of the benefits of participating in regular physical activity is that it helps maintain our mental health. There is an undeniable relationship between our body and our mental health.
For instance, studies have shown that Canadians who report symptoms of depression are likely to report experiencing three times as many chronic conditions as the general population.
Moreover, Canadians with chronic physical conditions have twice the likelihood of also experiencing a mood or anxiety disorder when compared to those without a chronic physical condition.
In that sense, physical activity can help maintain good mental health. For example, according to recent research, physical activity is considered to be an effective treatment for anxiety and especially depression.
Physical Activity Resources
Join Cultivate your Well-being with Contemplative Practices Workshop with Emma JR Ates.
York University is currently holding MUV online fitness classes. These sessions range in a variety of activities, including yoga, muay thai, and full body strength training. Check out their programming here.
**The Glendon Athletic Club (GAC) offers $20 yearly memberships to students, giving them full access to all facilities and other perks. Find out more on their website: https://www.glendon.yorku.ca/gac/for-students/
**Note: due to the ongoing pandemic, the GAC is closed and has suspended all activities until further notice. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for all questions related to their services.