Summer Exercise – some thoughts on health, physical activity, and religion

With summer weather increasing across Canada, and COVID-19 restrictions lessening, more and more people are getting outside.  Gardens are being planted and weeded, and walks are longer.  It’s a perfect time to consider the relationship between health and physical activity.

It is good to think about the factors that will keep us healthy throughout our lives.  A key factor in preserving mobility now and independence in later years is physical capacity maintenance – the strength, endurance, agility, and balance – needed to perform all our normal everyday activities.

Given that physical exercise and/or activity has been shown to be important to adults in establishing positive psychological and physiological health, many organizations (e.g., the Canadian government with ParticipACTION and the World Health Organization) recommend 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.  Just over half of Canadian aged 35 to 64 years self-report fulfilling this amount while in studies that use actual tracking devices, fewer than 20% of those 18 to 79 years met the guidelines (1, 2).

Research continues to help provide understanding on why adults are not physically active, not only in Canada but all over the world.  Religion and spirituality, and their links to physical activity, are topics of consideration.  There are a variety of interesting outcomes to ponder.  One study found that within religious groups, those attending church weekly were more likely to exercise than individuals attending church less than weekly (3). Another study found no significant relationship between health behaviours and religious orientation in fifty percent of healthy elderly people (4).  A recent US study suggested that there are few relationships between religion, fat intake and physical activity, suggesting that in contemporary US society, religion may play a small role in the context of how diet and exercise are developed and maintained. Lastly, an interesting study found a significant relationship between religion and physical activity in women (5) – something to think about the next time you are involved in an event at church. A prayer walk is a great example of exercise and faith combined.

Correlations aside, the message from health professionals is that we keep physically active to feel great all our lives. Take time to care for your physical, emotional and spiritual health this summer.


  1. Statistics Canada, 2019
  2. CIHI, 2017
  3. Merrill & Thygerson, 2001
  4. Bakhtiari et al. (20?)
  5. Hye-cheon Kim & Sobal, 2004


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