Doctor calls on Canadians to ditch the shortcuts, add time on their feet

One family care doctor, whose online videos have rose to fame, is now issuing a new challenge to Canadians, in a campaign he’s called “Make our day harder.”. (Photo by Michal Svacek/isifa/Getty Images)

TORONTO – We walk from our homes to the car, the car to our office, from the elevator to our desks and from our desks to the cafeteria. In a day’s work, that’s not a lot of time on our feet.

One family care doctor (and viral video star) has issued a new challenge to Canadians in a campaign he’s called “Make our day harder.”

“How about you and I start a movement – an anti-pushing-the-button-so-the-door-opens-automatically-for-us movement,” Dr. Mike Evans, a St. Michael’s Hospital physician and University of Toronto scientist, says in his latest video.

He says he knows it sounds counter-intuitive but in a world of convenience and oversimplifying – electric toothbrushes, vacuums on autopilot, online shopping and remote controls for everything – adjustments need to be made in our daily lives to carve out a space for activity.

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And he’s not referring to time in the gym or taking up running – it’s small tweaks that we need to be conscious of.

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“For a variety of reasons that include technology, culture and attitudes, we have a severe generational case of sitting disease,” Evans says.

“We watch phones, tablets, televisions. We stare at computers when we work and pride ourselves on not moving for four hours straight.”

Pair that with emailing friends or coworkers instead of walking by to talk to them and any other examples of technology whittling away at active lives and we’ve cut out the “single best treatment for health” in our medicine cabinet – being active and moving, Evans said.

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To illustrate how dire our active lives have become: an average Amish man and woman from decades ago would take about 18,000 steps a day.

American men typically walk about 7,200 steps a day and for women, that number decreases to about 5,200.

Canadians, based on recent estimates, take about 8,400 to 9,500 steps a day but that decreases to about 8,000 after 60 years old, Evans said.

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Evans points to one JAMA Internal Medicine study chronicling the health of baby boomers. They’re certainly living longer lives compared to their predecessors because of advances in medicine, but they’re plagued with obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Read more: Canadians living longer but managing heart health needs improvement

Today’s baby boomers don’t even smoke as much and work out more compared to the older generations.

“Let’s do something that’s totally in our control. Let’s make our day harder,” Evans said.

It could be as simple as parking further away in the parking lot, going for a walk on your lunch break, or taking the stairs instead of the escalator in the mall.

Evans even notes that his 90-year-old patient told him he gets off two floors above his apartment – he can’t handle uphill climbs on the stairs but it’s easy to walk down two flights.

Evans’ YouTube videos have covered a wide variety of subjects – concussions, HPV vaccines, and diabetes, to name a few.

His video, 23 and ½ hours, garnered national attention in 2011 with more than 3.5 million views.


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