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How Technology is Affecting Physical Activity

October 10, 2013 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Ever wonder why your grandparents seemed to maintain a healthy weight despite eating butter, never visiting the gym, and working long hours?

So what's changed?

Instead of texting, our grandparents actually walked up the stairs to talk to their children. They washed their own car instead of using carwashes and did their own handiwork instead of hiring. Physical labour was part of their daily routine.These days, new technology has made daily living much easier and more convenient, but not necessarily healthier.

I'm as guilty as many people. Sadly my day is mostly peppered with technology. Since my job involves promoting physical activity through social media, I'm working on my computer and using my cell phone throughout the day. Statistics show Canadians spend on average 10 hours a day being sedentary (doing little physical movement).

How Habits have Changed:

  • Us – Texting, online shopping, have seven remotes, microwave frozen pizza.
  • Grandparents - Walking over and talking, walked to and inside stores, changed channels manually, made food from scratch.

There's still hope!

The trick is to start with small changes. For example, I walk to and from the grocery store and clean my own house instead of hiring a cleaner to do it for me and I also cycle to work knowing my day will be spent sitting. The take home message is that little bits here and there add up. For example, walking around your office building, handiwork, raking leaves, gardening, and cleaning all help to build strength and endurance, and they're easy to do.

When in doubt ask yourself; what would grandma or grandpa do? 

Resources and references:

Physical Activity Line:  Get Up & MOVE! Sitting is Devastating for Our Health
Statistics Canada: Sedentarism and Physical activity in adult Canadians
JSOnline: Overview of a study examining the effects of technology on our health


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