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Using Recreation Centres to Stay Active

December 14, 2017 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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Using recreation centres to stay active

Resources I often recommend at Physical Activity Services are local recreation centres. Most likely your town or city has a recreation department. Bigger towns may have a dedicated aquatic centre, arena, and community centre, while smaller towns may have an all-purpose centre. These centres offer communities a place to be active, socialize and even learn something new. They are a resource that can support your family’s healthy lifestyle without blowing your budget.

Where to find information:

Find what’s available where you live. Go to your city or town’s website. The main menu of the website will usually have a section called leisure or parks and recreation. From there you should be able to see which facilities your town has and their schedule of activities. Alternatively, call your city info line and ask to be connected to the recreation department or visit your town hall for information.

Use the recreation guide:

Your local recreation guide is like the “exercise phone book”. Most communities’ are published quarterly or biannually. These guides usually have sections listing activities for kids and youth, adults, and older adults.

If your town has a swimming pool, the recreation guide may be divided into aquatic or non-aquatic activities. The aquatic section will tell you when the pool is open for the public use, designated lane swim times, and water-based exercise class times. Non-aquatic activities usually include:

Most classes state the difficulty level. Choose advanced classes if you want a more rigorous session or go with beginner sessions for a class that’s lower intensity.

There may also be classes that cater to specific health conditions. For example, the pool might have an exercise class for those with arthritis, or there might be a healthy heart program for those recovering from a heart problem.

Look for print copies of recreation guides at recreation centres, your public library, or town hall. Online versions of recreation guides may also be available on your town’s website.

Find the best deal:

The goal of recreation centres is for you to be active without costing you too much money. Rates are usually much lower than those of private gyms. I have found an annual pass is the most cost effective. That said, most, if not all, recreation centres have a discount program for those who need help. Look for activities like free swim times or free events; just ask the front desk or look in the guide. As an extra incentive, some municipalities will offer a discounted month of January to help you get the ball rolling!

Other resources where you can be active:

Think of where you are living and the surrounding environment. Recreation centres are one place to be active, but there are many more. Do you live in Northern BC with close access to a river or lake? Or, do you live in the suburbs of Surrey and have access to a local park? If possible, use the internet to search what’s in your community and plan walking or biking routes to get there, or transit over.

If you are not sure or have questions about finding a recreation centre or fitness class in your area, talk to a Qualified Exercise Professionals by dialing 8-1-1. We can point you in the right direction!


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