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Active living is an approach to life that values and includes physical activity in everyday living. You can find ways to be active at work, school, home, and during leisure time.
Active living is not the same as an exercise program. Active living means making physical activity part of every day life whether you are taking the stairs instead of the elevator, participating in a standing or walking meeting, biking to work, yoga at lunch, gardening, taking the kids or dog to the park, walking to the other building at your facility, or swimming laps in the pool.
It is easier than you think to be “physically active”. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that we be active at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) a week to achieve the health benefits. The goal is to complete moderate to vigorous aerobic activity. This goal can be achieved throughout the day by accumulating 10 minute or more periods of activity. Physical activity should be a mixture of endurance, flexibility and strength activities. This mixture helps to strengthen the heart and lungs, keep joints flexible and mobile, and maintain strong bones. Target your muscles and bones at least two days per week.
The following chart is an example of what moderate to vigorous aerobic activity “looks like”:
|Time Needed Depends on Effort|
|Very light Effort||Light Effort||Moderate Effort||Vigorous Effort||Maximum Effort|
|Light walking |
|Brisk walking |
|How should I feel while exercising? How warm am I? What is my breathing like?|
|No change from when you are resting||Starting to feel warm||Warmer||Quite warm||Very hot/ perspiring heavily|
Slight increase in breathing rate
Greater increase in breathing rate
More out of breath
Completely out of breath
It is important to have a mixture of activities in your routine.
Endurance (aerobic) exercise helps improve the body's ability to use oxygen.
Flexibility routines help to maintain the body's ability to bend and stretch easily.
Strength training helps strengthen muscles as well as improving balance and posture.
Exercises that help strengthen your bones include:
Many times people feel they don't have time to 'add' activity into their day. The workplace can help. A workplace can encourage employees to take on various activities at all levels regardless of age and ability. For most people, they just need help to get started. “Balance” needs to come from the individual wanting to start or continue with an activity program, and having encouragement from the workplace in order to meet these objectives. Whether you work in a small or large company, there are many areas and strategies that can increase participation in fitness and active living programs.
Some strategies are:
Simply put, a workplace that supports physical activity provides and enhances quality of life for employees, both inside and outside of the workplace. When employees are encouraged to be active, there can be benefits for both the employee and the company, such as:
It is important for organizations not only to analyze the cost of running a physical activity program in the short term, but also to see how it will benefit the organization in the long run.
Sometimes making small changes can support big results. The employees, management and committees can create ideas or initiate for the workplace. After acknowledging these ideas, a detailed plan of action can be the next step. In this step, you can plan your activities that can be developed for your specific workplace setting. After a program is in place, it should be monitored, evaluated and maintained.
More information on active living is available from the following organizations*:
(*We have mentioned these organizations as a means of providing a potentially useful referral. You should contact the organization(s) directly for more information about their information and/or services. Please note that mention of these organizations does not represent a recommendation or endorsement by CCOHS of these organizations over others that you may know.)
[Adapted from: Workplace Health and Wellness Guide, CCOHS]