Mothers in motion

Do you know the facts?

While you were pregnant, you may have talked about health concerns with your family doctor, friends, or family members. Some of the likely topics were

  • nutrition for a healthy pregnancy,

  • gestational diabetes,

  • breastfeeding, and

  • weight gain or loss.

These health concerns are set by your daily living habits, coping skills, and the effects of our culture and environment. The facts about women's health in Canada are as follows:

  • 3 out of 10 Canadian women are obese, largely due to poor diet and lack of physical activity (Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 1992)

  • Women have a 1 in 4 chance of developing osteoporosis and males have a 1 in 8 chance (Osteoporosis Society of Canada)

  • Heart disease is the #1 killer of Canadian women (Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 1992)

  • 25,000 women die from cancer each year and 4,700 from breast cancer (Statistics Canada, 1992)

Physical inactivity is now defined as a major independent public health concern. That's because people with low levels of physical activity are at higher risk of getting a number of serious health problems or diseases, such as being overweight or obese, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer.

It is well known that higher rates of being overweight and obese among adults, children and youth are due to both poor eating habits and inactivity. The biggest risk factors are the vast array of cheap, fast-foods on the market. They are high calorie but low in nutrition. Other factors that create overweight and obese adults, children, and youth are too much TV and video game use. The challenge to overcoming these risks is immense.

  • The 1988 Campbell Survey on Well-Being in Canada1, and the 1981 Canada Fitness Survey both showed a decline in young women's levels of physical activities during the teen years. This is also a time when 44% of Grade 10 girls say that they need to lose weight (Health Canada, 1996)

  • Girls participate in FEWER physical activities outside of school than boys. About  25% of girls do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week (Health Canada, 1996)

  • In 15 years, the rate of being overweight in boys rose from 15% in 1981 to 35.4% in 1996. Among girls, the rates rose from 15% to 29.2% during the same time frame while the rates of obesity in children have tripled, from 5% to 16.6% for boys and from 5% to 14.6% for girls.2

  • Studies show that what we do to relax—such as watching too much TV or playing video games for hours at a time—set us up for eating too much and sitting in chairs instead of being active.3

  • Today's overweight, screen-loving children are quickly becoming tomorrow's diabetes, heart disease, and blood pressure victims.

As a parent, the choices you make when it comes to active living and healthy eating will play a key role in your child’s healthy living habits and health concerns. In the same way, your friends, your parents, and the health professionals you visit will play a key role in influencing YOUR healthy living habits.

Why is physical activity important for your future?

1 Stephens T and CL Craig. The well-being of Canadians: highlights of the 1988 Campbell's survey. Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute: Ottawa, ON; 1990.

2 Tremblay MS, Williams DJ. Secular trends in the body mass index of Canadian children. Can Med Assoc J 2000;163(11):1429-33, revised January 2001.

3 Robinson TN and JD Killen. Ethnic and gender differences in the relationships between television viewing and obesity, physical activity, and dietary fat intake. J Health Educ 1995; 26(2 Suppl):S91-S98

I am always in a rush and end up eating unhealthy snacks on the go.

Cut up veggies on the weekend and store them covered in the fridge for up to one week or choose easy and portable items such as whole fruits, raisins, nuts, etc.