Crystal ball forecasts a future of aches and pains,
less active lifestyles for Canadians
Canadians limit their health by giving in
to joint pain
Toronto, ON – April 22, 2008 – In a recent national
survey, adult Canadians cite pain and physical limitations,
lack of time and lack of money as the three main barriers
to a healthy, active lifestyle. The research finds
that we know being active is important to being healthy – but
we’re not so good at doing what we know we should. It
could be, at least in part, because 10 million of us live
with chronic or recurrent pain.
Spearheaded by a task force of the Active Living Coalition
for Older Adults (ALCOA), CARP (Canada’s Association for the 50+), and Patient Partners in Arthritis,
the research examined Canadians’ feelings and perceptions about active
living – awareness and understanding of the benefits of active living,
thoughts about changing activity levels as they age, and barriers to living an
active life at any age.
The research also shows that more than 8.5 million Canadians
expect to be less physically active 20 years from now.
This expectation is in part because they mistakenly believe
that aches and pains commonly associated with osteoarthritis
(OA), are a natural part of aging.
Expectations around decreased physical activity are even
greater with those who suffer from OA. In fact, an alarming
81 per cent of OA suffers expect joint pain to increase
as they age and over half (53 per cent) feel they’ll be less
physically active 20 years from now.
“Regular activity is important in the successful management
of osteoarthritis, it’s actually part of the arthritis
treatment plan,” said Dr. William
Bensen, a rheumatology consultant at McMaster University
and St. Joseph’s
Healthcare in Hamilton. “People with OA need
to communicate and work with their physician to manage their
pain as much as possible so that they can be active and healthier
as they age.”
Pain and physical limitations aren’t the only barriers
to daily physical activity. Time constraints are also an
issue to daily physical activity with 56 per cent of adult
Canadians citing this as a barrier to making physical activity
a daily commitment; another 26 per cent cite money as a limiting
Some other interesting findings from the survey include:
- Twenty-seven per cent of Canadian adults say they are
- Inactive Canadians acknowledge that their inactivity
will affect them negatively later in life, while those
leading an active lifestyle believe it will have a positive
- Canadians aged 25-44 are the most likely to describe
themselves as inactive; those aged 18-24 and 65+ are the
most likely to describe themselves as active
- Eighty per cent of Canadians aged 65+ describe themselves
as being physically active
- Two thirds of Canadians expect an increase in joint pain
as they age
- One quarter of Canadians experience pain on a daily or
weekly basis that prevents them from partaking in certain
- A third of Canadian who say they experience joint pain
ignore their pain all together
“We are pleased to see that Canadians understand being
active helps in being healthy -- it is a good start,” said
Philippe Markon, Past-Chair of ALCOA. “We are
disappointed to see people expect activity to decrease as
they age, so now we need to help them understand that aches
and pains are not a natural part of aging, and how to get
and stay active, how to overcome their barriers and be healthy
as they age.”
“Information on available community-based facilities
and programs at little or no cost needs to be more accessible,” said
Anne Lyddiatt, arthritis advocate and member of Patient Partners
in Arthritis. “Canadians
with arthritis need to know how important physical activity
is for living a healthy, more active and less painful lifestyle
and that there are programs designed for any stage of the
“Canada’s 11 million Zoomers are healthier than
generations before and are more concerned about their health
than ever,” said Holly Vengroff, Director of External
Relations, CARP. “The results of this survey confirm
the barriers that need to be overcome for them to maintain
their health as they age.”
The task force is calling on all Canadians to take up a five-step
plan to healthy and active aging.
- Aim for 30 minutes of activity a
day. Try to do
10 minutes of activity three times a day. When you
see how easy it is, you can gradually add more.
- Use existing – and often free – resources.
Research your community facilities and programs to see
- Find simple things to do that fit
your life. Some examples:
- walk to work, at lunch or after dinner;
- get off the bus or subway one stop earlier and walk
the last distance;
- walk on the spot during TV commercials;
- park further from the mall doors;
- do an extra lap around the perimeter of the grocery
store while shopping;
- lift soup cans or bottles of water when walking outside
or “on the spot”;
- use rubber tubing for resistance exercises. Different
colours indicate different resistance levels so be sure
you have the one suitable for your fitness level;
- check out the library and/or video store for exercise
videos – try before you buy to find one that you
like and are able to do;
- do chair exercises while you’re sitting at work
or in front of the TV.
- Find an activity buddy. It’s always easier to stay
motivated with someone else.
- Proactively manage aches and pains – they’re
not a “normal part of aging.” Work with your
doctor and healthcare professionals to help manage your
pain so you can stay active.
About the Report
Survey scope and campaign objectives were developed by a
task force including the Active Living Coalition for Older
Adults (ALCOA), CARP and Patient Partners in Arthritis,
and were supported through an unrestricted education grant
from Pfizer Canada Inc.
Leger Marketing conducted this study via 2,161 online surveys.
The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/-2.1%,
19 times out of 20.
Active Living Coalition for Older Adults (ALCOA)
ALCOA, a partnership of organizations and individuals having
interest in the field of aging, encourages older Canadians
to maintain and enhance their well-being and independence
through a lifestyle that embraces daily physical activities.
The Active Living Coalition for Older Adults (ALCOA) envisions
a society where all older Canadians are leading active lifestyles
thereby contributing to their physical and overall well-being.
CARP is the leading national voice for Canada’s 50-Plus
population mandated to provide its members with powerful
advocacy on issues affecting their health, their finances
and their rights, a range of useful benefits and savings
and community support through local and regional chapters
for an overall improved quality of life.
A national non-profit organization, CARP works for the benefit
of Canada’s 11 million “Zoomers” - the
term for the 50-plus demographic in our New Vision of Aging
CARP keeps Zoomers informed through CARP Magazine (soon to
be rebranded as Zoomer Magazine), the e-newsletter CARP Action
Online, and via www.carp.ca
For more information contact 1.800.363.9736 or visit www.carp.ca
Patient Partners in Arthritis
The Patient Partners in Arthritis Program offers an innovative
approach to improving the quality of arthritis care in Canada.
The program addresses issues central to today's healthcare
delivery by providing effective training for healthcare providers
and trainees. Since the program's launch in 1996, more than
3,300 medical trainees and over 3,000 healthcare professionals
have been educated by Patient Partners.
The full report is available at Arthritis
project page and www.carp.ca
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