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We Should Let Our Olympic Gold
Inspire Us All

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page A2 in the March 3, 2010 issue of The Mississauga News
under the feature: Health & Beauty, Medicine Matters.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

The spectacle of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in our own backyard should be an inspiration to us all. It says a lot about how we as a nation are coping and how the rest of the world sees us.

With record setting Golds, it is sad that the average Canadian could not hope to afford attending at the games, and that the Olympic flame was carried by so many rich and affluent individuals with only a sprinkling of the pure and worthy. But it is the spirit of this event that touched us all.

This is a unique opportunity for us all to seize the moment and build on it. Olympians are ordinary Canadians who have proven that they have the ability to train, persevere and sacrifice. Build on that spirit and jump start that exercise program - start eating more nutritionally. Use this Olympic spirit as the push to teach our young people to say "NO" to junk and processed foods. The average healthy adult Canadian needs to undergo at least 20 minutes of sustained vigorous activity every second day.

Vigorous is defined as raising your heart rate at least 30% to 50% above resting levels. The proof is in the pudding. Persons with minor heart attacks enter cardiac rehabilitation programs and quickly achieve significant improvements in their health.

My definition involves some sweat as well, because it attests to muscles working. The type of activity is of lesser concern. It can take place in the gym, backyard or bedroom. Go for a brisk walk, feel the sun on your face, shovel that snow with a constant and cheerful pace, knowing that it is making you a better and more fit person. Weight training has benefits similar to cardiovascular training. The type of activity will determine improvements in secondary goals such as flexibility, strength and stamina.

Many work related activities also count. Gardening, laundry and housework, if done with some degree of intensity, are beneficial. Climbing stairs at every opportunity adds heart benefits. Jobs that involve physical exertion also count. The benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Exercise does not wear out the body, it is poor habits that lead to repetitive injury. The additional benefits of exercise include weight loss, a longer life span, less depression, improved stamina and enhanced enhanced immunity.

Some form of daily exercise is also important for children. We live in a routine where kids' activities are pre-planned and pre-packaged. There is less opportunity for the old form of "pick-up" games where kids got fit and learned social skills. Handling minor spats on the sports field was a valuable and safe experience for life lessons. But one thing is for sure, children do pick up the habits of their parents be it smoking, dancing or sports.

Hockey is our game, and I am an ardent hockey player, coach and fan. Watching the women's Gold hockey team celebrate with our two local Olympians amongst them was heart-warming and instilled pride in me. To even suggest any hint of apology is ridiculous. Perhaps it's up to the well-paid professional men's team who attended but sat solemnly in the rafters as the gold medals were distributed, who failed to acknowledge the momentous occasion, who need to apologize. Perhaps it's the CTV network who should apologize. It used the Olympic games as an opportunity to indulge their anchors and hosts instead of profiling the struggles and sacrifices that ALL our amateur athletes endure to wear the maple leaf proudly. To consider a sport "too successful" for the rest of the world truly belittles the human spirit! I am proud to be Canadian because next week it is back to the Leafs. Earn an Olympic Gold for your health.

Related resources:

CTV: 2010 Winter Olympics. Complete coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver from CTV.

Eating for Exercise: Get Inspired by the Olympians by Dana Angelo White in Diets & Weight Loss, Healthy Tips.

Six Things We Can Learn From Olympians.

Might The Olympics Inspire You To Exercise More And Eat Better? Heart Research UK Tips. "Watching Olympians compete is great but even better if it spurs us on to exercise more" - 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Do the Olympic athletes inspire you to exercise? 2008 Summer Olympics. "... thousands of boys and girls will be begging for gymnastics or swimming lessons after watching the Olympics, but I think adults are inspired too."

Women's on-ice hockey celebration creates stir.

IOC downplays Canadian women's gold medal celebration.

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