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Getting Physically Active

There is convincing and extensive evidence linking regular physical activity (30-60 minutes of moderate activity a minimum of 5 days a week) with improved quality of life and increased health benefits. Physically active people enjoy numerous physical and mental health benefits and have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and certain types of cancer. There are also many social, economic and environmental benefits associated with increasing physical activity levels in our communities. Research indicates that physically active communities are more productive and spend less on health care. The challenge we have is how to address inactivity at the community and individual level and more importantly create a mind shift in how physical activity is viewed so that it becomes a daily component of life. (Richmond County Physical Activity Strategy, 2009).

Physical Activity Levels in the Guysborough, Antigonish, and the Strait Richmond Area in 2010

  • The following are physical activity levels reported in the "Understanding Our Health Survey" undertaken by GASHA in 2010.
  • In the Guysborough County CHB area, 46% of 370 respondents were physically inactive, 26% were moderately active and 28% were regularly active. The percentage that was moderately or regularly active (54%) was higher than in 2005 (45%).
  • In the Strait Richmond CHB area, 44% of 376 respondents were physically inactive, 27% were moderately active and 28% were regularly active.
  • In the Antigonish Town & County CHB area, 44% of 375 respondents were physically inactive, 28% were moderately active and 28% were regularly active.
  • The most important factors respondents said would help them become physically
  • active were:
    • Affordable recreation facilities - 79% of 375 respondents in Antigonish Town & County; 76% of 370 respondents in Guysborough County, and 77% of 376 respondents in Strait Richmond;
    • Access to paths, trails and green spaces - 77% of 375 respondents in Antigonish Town & County; 68% of 370 respondents in Guysborough County, and 74% of 376 respondents in Strait Richmond;
    • Information on physical activity, health and wellbeing - 75% of 375 respondents Antigonish Town & County; 73% of 370 respondents in Guysborough County, and 74% of 376 respondents in Strait Richmond;
    • Affordable recreation programs - 75% of 375 respondents in Antigonish Town & County; and 76% of 376 respondents in Strait Richmond;
    • Services to link up individuals with common recreational interests - 75% of 376 respondents in Strait Richmond

To be more proactive in relation to physical activity levels, GASHA has recently been involved with two major initiatives to improve the general public's participation in physical activity. The first is participation in Richmond County's Physical Activity Partnership Committee (RCPAPC). The second is involvement in the Guysborough Antigonish Active Living Network (GAALN). The activities of each are outlined below.

Richmond County Physical Activity Partnership

The Municipality of the County of Richmond adopted a coordinated and collaborative approach to developing a physical activity strategy from the beginning through the establishment of Richmond County's Physical Activity Partnership Committee (RCPAPC). The partnership believes that physical inactivity must be addressed through a coordinated and collaborative community effort if change is to come about. Physical inactivity cannot be tackled alone by one organization if major impacts are to occur.

RCPAPC is a multifaceted committee consisting of over 20 members. These members represent a variety of government and non- government organizations, stakeholders and individuals from across Richmond County who have a strong interest in promoting physical activity within the county. GASHA is involved as a member of the committee and also provided assistance with facilitating the development of the strategy.

The overall purpose of Richmond County's Physical Activity Strategy is to identify ways to get more people in Richmond County to be more active more often. In their strategy, the RCPAPC identified four key focus areas that serve as a framework for the strategy:

  1. Leadership, Partnerships, and Sustainability
  2. Supportive Social Environments
  3. Supportive Physical Environments
  4. Public Awareness.

Download the Richmond County Physical Activity Strategy:
http://www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/pasr/publications/Physical-Activity-Strategy-Richmond.pdf

Guysborough Antigonish Active Living Network

Formed in 2009, the Guysborough Antigonish Active Living Network (GAALN) has the following purpose:

  • To improve communication, coordination, and collaboration among partners working toward improving and enhancing active living in Antigonish and Guysborough counties.

The network's long term goal is to increase activity levels among residents living in Antigonish and Guysborough counties. The short term goals are:

  • To increase opportunities for the citizens of Guysborough and Antigonish to participate in Active Transportation (AT)
  • To increase the awareness among decision makers of the importance of the benefits of Active Transportation
  • To increase awareness about the benefits of active living among the general public and decision-makers
  • To increase the number of built and unstructured environments (playgrounds, walking trails, bike lanes, etc) that support active living.
  • To improve the quantity and quality of physical activity leadership in Antigonish and Guysborough Counties
  • To improve sharing among network members

The network is currently working on developing an active living web portal so that information about physical activity programs, services, facilities is accessible to the residents and visitors to Guysborough and Antigonish.

Network members are also involved in promoting active transportation in the two counties. They have organized and participated in two active transportation workshops and intend to do more education around this issue.

Who is involved?

Network members include organizations interested in the overall purpose and goal of the network. This includes municipalities, school board, the district health authority, community health boards, and community-based organizations. Current membership is made up of the following:

  • Town of Antigonish
  • County of Antigonish
  • Municipality of Guysborough
  • District of St. Mary's
  • Town of Mulgrave
  • Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority (GASHA) - Public Health and Primary Health Care
  • Antigonish Town & County and Guysborough County Community Health Boards
  • Department of Health and Wellness
  • Strait Regional School Board
  • Kids First Association

How do I find out more?

Contact: Primary Health Care Facilitator, GASHA

Phone: 902-863-6369

Email: gaaln2010@gmail.com