September 14, 2007

By Rosanne Prinsen, MSc, Alberta Centre for Active Living


Government of Canada response to the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Health, Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids

Here's the link to the original report published in March 2007:

Kids kept indoors face “nature deficit disorder”

CP Wire (25/08/2007) writes that the “vague and powerful fears” parents harbour about giving their children free reign to frolic outdoors means a whole generation of young ones are facing a “nature deficit disorder,'” say experts and observers.

There is a “disturbing trend” that shows children are involved in mostly indoor organized activities, Doiron said. Nathan Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the need for structure in people's lives is making nature an increasingly “programmed experience.”

He said people are inclined to plan outings like a nature walk or canoe trip in advance rather than just do it on a whim. Perkins, who collaborated with graduate student Sarah McCans to research the role mothers play in exposing children to nature, said moms have “very vague and powerful fears” when it comes to letting their kids play unsupervised outdoors.

Most parental fears stem from news reports about outdoor safety and children's encounters with predators, said Richard Louv, who recently wrote a book about the dwindling relationship children have with nature.

Louv's latest book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,” has sold 160,000 copies and helped spark the creation of several groups dedicated to encouraging kids to get outdoors. Louv said when people hear the term “nature deficit disorder” they're immediately familiar with the issue.

Bob Peart, one of the organizers behind Nature Child Reunion based in Sidney, B.C., said kids often need to be reminded outdoor activities exist. Peart said part of the problem stems from parents who don't encourage their children to do simple outdoor activities such as walking to school.

According to data from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, nearly half of all children living in urban and suburban B.C. get a ride to school. Another part of the problem is the number of activities competing for children's time and attention.

Statistics Canada's most recent numbers on television viewing indicates children between ages two and 11 spend an average of 14.1 hours a week in front of the tube. While children might enjoy spending time in front of the screen, Doiron said it's important to get kids to increase their physical activity.

Thirteen new studies of systematic reviews and research designed to increase levels of physical activity

Play your way to fitness, Physical activity all day long: Building movement into the school curriculum and Switch off the TV and PLAY are among 13 new studies of systematic reviews and research available at

The purpose of conducting the studies of systematic reviews and research designed to increase levels of physical activity for children and youth is to help generate ideas and discussion among individuals interested in improving children’s physical activity levels in Nova Scotia.


Blueprint for Action aims to get people moving

The Metroland - Halton Division (Wed 05 Sep 2007 Byline: Krissie Rutherford) writes that the Halton Active Living Network (HALNet) launched a report yesterday, geared at increasing the number of Halton residents who are regularly physically active by 20 per cent by the year 2012.

The Blueprint for Action doubles a goal outlined by the Ontario government, which has pledged to ensure the number of active residents in the province grows 10 per cent by 2010, MPP Kevin Flynn said.

The Blueprint for Action has taken more than a year and a half to complete.

The combined effort of many Halton organizations in areas including fitness, sport, education and health, some of the plan's initiatives are underway now, with others to be phased in over the next few years.

Supporting physical activity in schools and organizing community events to promote fitness are among the short-term actions, while implementing more active transportation and changing policies in schools are just some of the initiatives the plan outlines for the future.

Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute (CFLRI)

CFLRI has recently released the second set of topics from its 2006 Physical Activity and Sport Monitor.

Topics include: Body mass index, overall health status and chronic conditions, life satisfaction and self reported mental health, stress, barriers to being active, potential influence on recruitment and turnover, beliefs about work-related benefits of physical activity, absenteeism and workplace injury, illness, and stress.

CIHI: Health of the nation newsletter (Fall 2007)

Visit the What's New section and check out “Age and gender differences in youth physical activity: Does physical maturity matter?”

New Brunswick launches campaign for healthy living
The Globe and Mail (Thu 06 Sep 2007 Source: CP) reports that the New Brunswick government has launched a two-year marketing campaign to encourage New Brunswickers to live a healthier lifestyle.

The province has the most physically inactive population in Canada and some of the most obese children in the country.

The government is spending $500,000 over the next two years on a campaign that includes television, print and radio ads. The ads encourage parents to become active and set an example for their children.

Physical Activity Symposium 2008

Tuesday & Wednesday, March 4-5, 2008
Crowne Plaza Toronto Don Valley Hotel Toronto, Ontario

The annual PARC Conference has evolved into the PARC Physical Activity Symposium 2008 to provide an engaging and practical professional development opportunity for physical activity promoters across Ontario.

The PARC Symposium is planned by and designed for physical activity promoters from public health and community health centres, recreation leaders, physical activity consultants and others interested in physical activity promotion.

Join professionals with an interest in and commitment to active healthy living. Early Bird Registration deadline is Friday, December 14, 2007.

Workbook for influencing physical activity policy

As an addendum to PARC’s online Toolkit for Influencing Physical Activity Policy, PARC’s new workbook is a user-friendly tool for anyone venturing to create a physical activity policy within their community, school or workplace.

It is suitable for all levels of experience or comfort with policy development. The workbook follows the Health Communication Unit’s (THCU) eight-step policy development model.
For a more comprehensive look at policy development, please see PARC’s online Toolkit for Influencing Physical Activity Policy.


Mental health promotion symposium

Presentations from the Mental Health Promotion Symposium held in Vancouver June 10, 2007 are now available online.

Symposium topics include research and community approaches to mental health promotion in the following contexts: rural and remote villages, victims of trauma, community development, youth in schools, Indigenous and Inuit populations, people with a mental illness, healthy aging and national policy.


New Food Guide resources to assist educators and communicators
The Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion offers new tools on the Health Canada website to assist educators and communicators in sharing information about Canada’s Food Guide.

Tools include two PowerPoint presentations: the first one helps to explain Canada’s Food Guide to consumers and the second provides more in-depth information for you to present to other health intermediaries.

You will also find an article, Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide (2007): Development of the Food Intake Pattern, published in the April 2007 issue of Nutrition Reviews (Vol.65, Number 4).

This article provides a detailed description of the process used to develop the food intake pattern of Canada’s Food Guide.

Finally, there’s expanded information in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the website, as well as a Questions and Answers for Educators section. These questions arose following the broadcast in March 2007 of the webcast, Developing Age and Gender Specific Food Intake Patterns.


Effects of physical exercise on depressive symptoms among the aged: A systematic review

Sjosten,N., Kivela,S.L. (2006). The effects of physical exercise on depressive symptoms among the aged: A systematic review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21(5), 410-418.

Objective: To determine the effects of physical exercise on depression or depressive symptoms among the aged.

Method: A literature search covering various medical databases was conducted to identify randomised controlled trials (RCT's) about the effects of exercise treatments on depression or depressive symptoms among the aged.

The studies were classified according to the baseline depression status of participants and assessed in relation to allocation concealment, blinding at outcome assessment, follow-up and whether intention to treat analysis was used. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were accepted.

Results: Exercise was effective in treating depression among those suffering from minor or major depression and in reducing depressive symptoms among those with a high amount of depressive symptoms at baseline.

However, both the allocation concealment and the blinding method were adequately described in only four studies.

Furthermore, intention-to-treat analysis was conducted in half of the studies and some follow-up information after the intervention has been published for five studies.

Conclusions: Physical exercise may be efficient in reducing clinical depression and depressive symptoms in the short-term among the aged suffering from depression or a high amount of depressive symptoms. More well controlled studies are needed.

Playground for seniors
The Vancouver Sun (Fri 31 Aug 2007, Byline: Catherine Rolfsen) reports that the Tsawwassen Lions Club has built a senior-specific wellness park at a cost of $150,000.

The idea came from a similar facility in Beijing. A playground for seniors makes sense in British Columbia, which has the oldest population of any province except Quebec and the most active seniors in Canada.

The human kinetics department at Langley's Trinity Western University, led by Prof. Daryl Page and his recreation leadership, designed the park to focus on falls prevention, flexibility and strength training.

Equipment includes the “pod step,” a series of platforms at various heights, the “ramp walk,” a gently sloping track, and a balance beam a few centimetres high with built-in hand rails. More equipment is on order.

Work-related physical activity and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Rovio S., Kåreholt I., Viitanen M., Winblad B., Tuomilehto J., Soininen H., Nissinen A., & Kivipelto M. (2007). Work-related physical activity and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(9), 874-882.

Background: Leisure-time physical activity has been related with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD).

The effects of occupational and commuting physical activity (physical activity at work and on the way to work) on cognitive health are still unclear. This study aimed to clarify the association between work-related physical activity and dementia/AD.

Methods: Participants of the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Dementia (CAIDE) study were derived from random, population-based samples previously studied in a survey carried out in 1972, 1977, 1982, or 1987.

After an average follow-up of 21 years, 1449 individuals (73%) aged 65 to 79 years participated in the re-examination in 1998.

Results: Neither occupational [Odds Ratio (OR) 1.45; 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) 0.66-3.17] nor commuting physical activity (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.10-2.17) were associated with the risk of dementia or AD after adjustments for age, sex, education, follow-up time, locomotor symptoms, main occupation during life, income at midlife, leisure-time physical activity, other subtype of work-related physical activity, ApoE genotype, vascular disorders and the smoking status.

There were also no interactions between work-related physical activity and the ApoE 4 genotype, leisure-time physical activity or sex.

Conclusions: In this study, work-related physical activity was not found to be sufficient to protect against dementia and AD later in life.

The lack of effect might be partly due to a residual confounding. Nevertheless, physical activity during leisure-time may be beneficial even for people who are physically active at work or when commuting.


Survey shows business people don't exercise enough
Stressed out business people need to take more exercise; “Two out of three business people admit to doing no exercise”

[30/08/2007. Source: M2 PRESSWIRE] reports that half of the U.K. business population rarely takes part in any sporting activity or physical exercise, according to a recent survey conducted by Siemens.

This lack of regular exercise may be contributing to increased levels of stress, ill health and impaired performance in the work place.

The poll of 1,087 U.K. business people, commissioned by Siemens, found that 29 per cent of female executives did no exercise at all, while less than a third (31 per cent) did the recommended levels of three sessions per week.

The results are not much better for men, with 32 per cent admitting that they fail to take any exercise at all.

The research found that 80 per cent of business people agree that exercise helps to reduce stress levels, with 69 per cent of women and 62% of men wishing that they could spend more time working out, but finding that their busy, time-poor lifestyles prevent them from doing so.

Siemens, the partner of GB Rowing, conducted the research as part of a campaign to encourage the business community to take more exercise in order to improve their health, combat stress and to enhance performance in the workplace.

With the World Rowing Championships currently taking place in Germany, rowing has been identified as an ideal form of exercise for busy, stressed executives.

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