Photo: Courtesy of Natalie Stechyson
Walking 30 minutes to your kid’s school pick-up, playing tag in the backyard or kicking a ball around the park might all be commonplace activities for parents—but they can also make all the difference in living a healthier lifestyle.
That’s right, according to a recent scientific review published in the journal iScience, physical activity is key to improving heart health and reducing a person’s overall mortality rate—much more so than the number on that scale you may have been avoiding since having kids. The study, which looked at treatments for obesity, suggests that those who are overweight and get regular physical activity may have a lower chance of premature death than those who are considered an average weight but are unfit.
Combing through hundreds of studies to determine the relationship between weight loss, physical activity and mortality, the researchers concluded that exercise was far superior to weight loss when it comes to living a long and healthy life.
Here's what they found: As obesity has risen significantly around the world over the past few decades, unsustainable fad diets have climbed in a similar pattern. At the same time, the number of deaths from conditions linked with diet and exercise, such as heart disease, are also soaring, so the study concluded that yo-yo diets are not doing much to improve health (in fact, they often end up causing dieters to regain weight).
So, while dieting is doing very little to curb obesity and health problems, regular movement combined with a well-balanced diet can make a huge difference to your overall well-being regardless of your size.
“We would like people to know that fat can be fit and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes,” co-author Glenn Gaesser of the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University said in a press release.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 years get at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity a week, while children ages 5-11 years should be getting one hour of physical activity a day. With our busy schedules and sleepless nights, parents might roll our eyes at these recommendations. Who has the time to track that?
Well, activities such as taking your kids for a brisk walk in the stroller, doing some skating, or going for a family bike ride would all count—and are likely already part of your family's routine. And don’t forget the ten times you ran up and down the stairs this morning to retrieve the toys/clothes/books your kids needed immediately.
So, don't sweat it if you’re not the same size jeans as you were before your kids. As you chase them around the house each day, just remember that they’re helping you improve your health.