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Step Up For Sport

The health benefits of play


Step Up For Sport

The 2010 Winter Olympics will promote the health and wellness benefits of participation in sport to an estimated 3 billion television viewers worldwide.

The 2010 Winter Olympics will promote the health and wellness benefits of participation in sport to an estimated 3 billion television viewers worldwide. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, physical activity is a necessity for good health. Inactivity is as dangerous to our health as smoking.

Regular exercise is a key determinant of health for people of all ages, and getting involved in sport has been proven to greatly improve quality of life. While exercise can be as simple as taking a walk, cleaning the house, or hitting the gym—for many people participating in sports is the ultimate exercise, acting as the perfect blend of mental recreation and physical activity for enhancing their individual health and wellness.

In the lead-up to the Winter Olympics, a national survey of Canadians regarding sports reported that active sports participants attached very high levels of importance to sport as a source of

  • relaxation, fun, and recreation
  • physical fitness
  • improved quality of life due to better health
  • stress relief

Team play

As Olympic athletes from around the world gather to compete in Vancouver and Whistler this month, the camaraderie of sport will be top of mind for everyone watching. Particularly with team sports, people can benefit from the interaction that comes from exercising with others. Playing solo might provide the same cardiovascular workout as playing on a team, but it won’t necessarily introduce you to a new social network, as a team sport likely will.

Team sports have another unsung plus—they’re usually played on a regular basis, which provides a built-in commitment to exercise with pre-scheduled practices and games. This means there is less chance that you’ll flake out on your exercise plan.

Sport and health in Canada:

  • Canada is rolling out the welcome mat for sports as more than 7,000 athletes and officials will be welcomed this month in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
  • Over 70 percent of non-Olympian, Canadian sports participants describe their overall health as either excellent or very good, compared with less than 50 percent of those who are non-participants.
  • The proportion of adults aged 15 or older who report actively participating in sport has dropped from 45 percent in 1992 to 28 percent in 2005 (the most recent year for data).
  • Some contributing factors in the decline of Canadian sport participation are said to be our aging population, lack of time, lack of interest, and participating in non-sport leisure time activities such as watching TV and surfing the Internet.
  • Canadian teenagers aged 15 to 18 usually have the highest sports participation rate—but that rate declined from 77 percent in 1992 to 59 percent in 2005.
  • Rates of obesity among Canadians aged 18 and over have increased from 14 percent in 1978 to 23 percent in 2004. For Canadians aged two to 17 years the obesity rate increased from three percent to eight percent.

Get moving today

You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to benefit from sports, so get started today! Whether you take up a team sport or embark on a solo walking regime, the health benefits of being active are undeniable. Physical activity can reduce the risk of over 25 chronic conditions, particularly coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Regular exercise from sport participation or personal fitness regimes can also

  • increase metabolic rate
  • increase stamina and energy levels
  • improve muscular strength
  • reduce blood pressure
  • improve done density (which helps to prevent fractures and osteoporosis)
  • reduce mild anxiety and depression
  • improve memory in the elderly

Most popular sports

As athletes from around the world reach for the Olympic podium, Canadians will be inspired to consider their own physical fitness. While Canadians participate in many sports, they tend to focus their energy of just a few. According to the National Household Survey on Participation in Sport (2004) by the Conference Board of Canada, these are the top 5 sports loved by Canadians no matter what the season.

SportActive Canadians
1. Ice hockey1,646,000
2. Golf1,621,000
3. Baseball1,172,000
4. Skiing998,000
5. Soccer948,000


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