Crystal Ball forecasts a future of aches and pains

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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 factor.

Some other interesting findings from the survey include: • Twenty-seven per cent of Canadian adults say they are inactive • 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 impact • 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 physical activities • 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.”