As the father of three young children and as the MP for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky, I’m grateful to live in a riding so full of opportunities to be active, both indoors and out. But most Canadians are not as physically active as needed to be healthy – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that adults need at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity each week and school-age children need an hour a day ito achieve measurable health benefits. The majority of Canadians simply aren’t accomplishing this and health experts are concerned that this may be the first generation of Canadian children who will not live as long or be as healthy as their parents. Rampant obesity, diabetes and heart disease are changing the face of Canadian health, especially amongst more marginalized groups. The economic consequences include over seven billion dollars annually in health care costs relating to preventable diseases which diseases relate to obesity or overweight.
To reverse this trend we need a powerful national movement to harness the energy, skills, enthusiasm, and influence of all Canadians and promote national health and fitness. Our National Health and Fitness Day should help to raise awareness of each person’s responsibility to address physical inactivity in Canada.
Canadians should approach local governments, Mayors and Councils in their communities and invite them to proclaim National Health and Fitness Day, and take action to mark it. Individual cities may choose to do this by making community recreation centre free or discounted, or offering free tennis clinics, free guided hikes, or free public swim times.
Support is growing behind this event. Over 40 cities have proclaimed or are preparing to do so, including Yellowknife, Calgary, Ottawa, Halifax, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, Sechelt, and Gibsons. The Canadian Medical Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Running Room are among the organizations tot endorse the event.
On Saturday, June 1, join 2010 Olympic Skicross Gold Medallist Ashleigh McIvor and Vancouver Whitecaps Captain Jay DeMerit will join other MPs, city government leaders, other Canadians and as we kick off National Health and Fitness Day with a healthy start by participating in a free 5km walk/run. We’ll be setting off from the Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour starting at 7 am. Everyone is welcome to participate.
Together, let’s ensure that Canada is the “Fittest Nation on Earth”.
For more information: www.johnweston.ca
by John Weston, MP