Cough up cash to slim waistlines

We’ve come a long way from turn-of-the-century ad campaigns encouraging people to stay thin by smoking and ingesting tapeworms.

  • Jan. 26, 2011 7:00 p.m.

We’ve come a long way from turn-of-the-century ad campaigns encouraging people to stay thin by smoking and ingesting tapeworms.

Now, we’re told by a raft of studies and newly released guidelines, we should strive to stay healthy and fit by undertaking something called “exercise.”

An alarming Statistics Canada report last week noted only 15 per cent of our nation’s residents are getting the recommended weekly exercise.

On Monday, revised physical activity guidelines were released by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Now instead of striving for 60 minutes of exercise a day, the expectation for adults has been softened to 150 minutes a week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

The updated guidelines took four years of research and were vetted by more than 1,000 national and international experts, health professionals, governmental and non-governmental organizations, teachers and caregivers.

“There’s enough evidence in the literature now to say … to derive significant health benefits, you need moderate to vigorous physical activity daily,” said Mark Tremblay, the chair of the society’s physical activity guidelines committee.

Well who woulda thunk? Exercise is good, you say?

And taxpayers paid how many people how much for this study?

If the old, more demanding guidelines were not being adhered to, who are we kidding to believe that dumbing it down a little is going to make a work-harried adult squeeze in exercise they already weren’t doing?

Subtle pressure and encouraging messages about doing the right thing just don’t cut it.

Look at all the hand-wringing about our cars polluting the atmosphere and draining world oil reserves; it’s only been the carbon-tax smack to the wallet that has made us pay attention that we’d best start looking at alternatives like biking to work, using public transit and carpooling.

Money talks and it will take a financial carrot to reach desk-weary Canadians not already exercising. Here’s some suggestions:

• The federal government could offer a tax credit for people of all ages, like the $75 available since 2007 to enrol children in organized sports activities.

• How about a tax break for all Wii games, which are widely lauded for spurring senior citizen exercise in care facilities.

What better way to get kids active than to play a game?

• Employers could allow workers the flexibility to structure their days so as to squeeze a fitness class or hour at the gym into their routines.

• Direct provincial gaming revenue back into promoting recreational activities, instead of disappearing into one big tax pool.

• Locally, the City of Trail could step to the plate and give non-residents a break by allowing them to use the aquatic centre and join skating and swimming clubs without the current punitive costs. Instead of being leaders, they’re being impeders.

And who’s losing? Everyone.

Who’s gaining? Our midriffs.