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Province sets fitness goals for B.C. residents

Increase in fitness to reduce health care costs

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Last week B.C. became the first province in Canada to accept a challenge by the Canadian Medical Association to increase fitness levels by 10 per cent by 2010.

2010 LegaciesNow, a non-profit organization created and funded by the Vancouver Olympic Bid Committee and the provincial government to support and develop athletes for the 2010 Games, was chosen to implement a number of health and fitness related programs to help B.C. reach its fitness goals.

"What better legacy can there be from the Olympics than good health for all British Columbians?" asked Colin Hansen, Minister of Health Services.

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey of 2001, 38 per cent of British Columbians are still not active enough to achieve the health benefits associated with an active lifestyle, which is defined as 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. Inactive people are at greater risk for chronic diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Among the initiatives to be announced in the coming weeks are:

• A school-based program integrating physical activity, healthy eating and healthy school environments;

• A program that helps students choose a sport based on skill and personal preferences;

• A province-wide campaign to get communities across B.C. active in the annual Spirit of 2010 Hockey Tournament, which last spring involved 151 tournaments and 32,000 players in 74 B.C. communities.

"The expectation is that tying an increase in the health of all British Columbians with the arrival of the 2010 Winter Olympics will inspire everyone, children and adults alike, to become more active and choose a healthier lifestyle," said Dr. Jack Burak, president of the B.C. Medical Association.

It is estimated that a 10 per cent increase in fitness levels will lead to savings of $36 million per year for health care.

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