GTA’s top doctors join forces to encourage cities to plan for built-in exercise Urban planning should encourage walking, cycling and use of public transit to battle chronic disease, public health doctors say. Toronto Star File Photo A group of medical officers of health are encouraging governments to spend more money on integrated transit to get people out of their cars to save lives. By: Theresa Boyle Health, Published on Wed May 14 2014 The top doctors for Toronto, Peel, Hamilton and Simcoe- Muskoka have joined forces to urge all levels of government to change the way communities are planned, to encourage more physical activity. When it comes to land-use and transportation planning, more consideration must be given to encouraging residents to walk, cycle and use public transit, they told a news conference at Union Station on Wednesday.
DO IT OFTEN AND FEEL THE DIFFERENCE Cycling is a simple way to stay fit and healthy at any age, or to shed those extra winter pounds. At a relaxed pace you can bike 3.5 km in just 15 minutes and burn off some calories. It’s so easy it almost feels like cheating. Thirty minutes of moderate cycling per day can deliver these significant health benefits: 50% reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease, adult diabetes, and obesity 30% reduced risk of developing hypertension Overall improved health (with no gym fees!) EASY ON YOUR BOD Cycling is easier on the body than many aerobic sports. Unlike jogging, cycling is low-impact and doesn’t put stress on your knees. In fact, as long as you use correct gearing, cycling can gently strengthen your knees and keep them limber. GOOD FOR YOUR HEAD Regular exercise can help you manage stress better, and the sunshine and fresh air can boost your mood and energy level. Many people find that cycling is as good for their mental well-being as for their physical health. BETTER FOR YOUR LUNGS You are actually exposed to less pollution cycling along a busy road than if you’re trapped inside a car. Even better, many cycling routes are a pleasant distance away from heavy traffic, and pollution levels drop off dramatically even a few metres away from a busy road. GETTING STARTED If you’re not used to cycling, you might experience some muscle fatigue and sleepiness at first. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your muscles get stronger, the hills seem to shrink, and your energy level rises. CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR If you’re not used to moderate levels of physical activity or have a family history of heart problems, consult your doctor before you start cycling. SPINNING IS THE SECRET Riding in too high a gear (when it’s “hard” to pedal) leads to muscle pain and knee injuries. “Spinning” – that is, staying in lower (“easier”) gear – will allow you to ride comfortably through the years.