Welcome to 2016, everyone!

Pad of paper with words New year -- Fresh start!

Here we are in the middle of February already (wow). How are your resolutions holding up?

Is it just me, or is there nothing like the promise of a “better” year on New Year’s morning? Judging by my personal social media feeds, the arrival of the New Year has inspired people to get fit, eat better, travel more, quit bad habits, spend more time with their friends and family, and less time with their phones and computers. As of January 1st my friends have given up everything from McDonalds to Facebook all in the name of increasing their personal wellbeing.

Did you set some goals for yourself? Are you still on track?

Overwhelmingly, at least in my own social circle, people have resolved to get active and eat better – maybe you can relate. But as January 1st slips further and further behind us, perhaps you could use a little motivator to keep your early morning gym and smoothie date with yourself, or to remind yourself to walk to work instead of hopping in the car. Don’t worry — I’ve got your back. I am going to show you just how beneficial healthy eating and regular exercise is for Canadians like you!

Here at the CIW, we have looked into the wellbeing of Canadians in five communities across the country using our Community Wellbeing Survey. We asked community members all kinds of questions related to healthy eating, active transportation, and physical activity, and I am going to tell you a little bit about what we learned.

First, let’s take a look at just how many Canadians regularly eat healthy meals and are physically active. 

bar chart showing the percentage of people eating healthy meals in the past week

bar chart showing percentage getting good quality exercise in the past week

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that over 60% of survey respondents agreed that they had engaged in good quality exercise in the week prior to completing our survey and nearly 85% agreed that they had regularly eaten healthy meals. It looks like many of us were off to a good start long before the morning of January 1st!

I was also interested to see how many Canadians surveyed, regularly use active modes of transportation instead of driving a car. Walking, biking, or even taking public transit to work or school is one great way to ensure you are getting active each and every day. 

Bar chart showing frequency of walking, biking, or taking public transit rather than driving a car

As you can see, around 60% of the people we surveyed told us that they use these modes of transportation relatively infrequently or not at all. Perhaps we would see a shift in these numbers if we surveyed larger Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver where transit systems are well-developed and widely used. Not surprisingly, of the Canadians who participated in our survey, those who use active forms of transportation regularly report higher levels of satisfaction with their physical and mental wellbeing.

That also holds true for other forms of exercise, so regardless of whether you are getting your exercise walking to work, using a gym, or playing with your kids, your grand kids, or dog, it is important that you make sure you are moving and eating healthy too. Healthy eating and exercise are related to higher satisfaction with overall physical and mental wellbeing.

We also compiled a measure of our participants’ satisfaction with their overall wellbeing with responses ranging from “extremely dissatisfied” (1) to “extremely satisfied” (7). I took a peek at the relationship between healthy eating, exercise, and satisfaction with overall wellbeing, and here is what I found:

Line graph showing association between a healthy lifestyle and satisfaction with overall wellbeing

* Results do not include data collected in Guelph, ON.

As healthy eating and exercise increase, so does a person’s overall satisfaction with their wellbeing!

So, maybe you are reading this on a day when the weather is forecast to be 20C below zero. The wind and snow might be whipping past your window, and perhaps you’re even wrapped in a blanket reaching for your favourite comfort food. Sure, your New Year’s resolutions are running through your mind, but it is wintertime. It’s cold, you’re half-hibernating, and you can jump back on the health bandwagon in the spring, right? Wrong.

Don’t give up on your resolutions, pals. I’ve shown you how beneficial exercise and good eating habits can be, and I’d bet all those other things you resolved to do/not do are good for you too. So stick with it!

Stay well.

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