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Getting Canadians moving

For years, ParticipACTION has been encouraging Canadians to change their sedentary behaviour for improved health and physical well-being. The financial planning industry is working towards a cultural shift as well, albeit one where Canadians are empowered to take control of their finances.

During last month's Financial Planning Vision 2020 Symposium hosted by the Toronto-based Financial Planning Standards Council, ParticipACTION president Kelly Murumets shared ways the financial planning industry can learn from the proactive organization made famous by their informative "Body Break" commercials.

"It's not enough to tell people to change their behaviour or to inspire people to change their behaviour," Murumets told the audience at Toronto's Old Mill Inn. "You have to give them the resources and tools to be able to do that...making it the easy choice."

Running as part of Financial Planning Week, the interview-style discussion was led by television personality Patricia Lovett-Reid, chief financial commentator for CTV and host of The Pattie Lovett-Reid Show.

Inspire behavioural change
Speaking on physical literacy vis-á-vis financial literacy, Murumets said it's extremely important that people are aware there are benefits to them: "They need to think it's achievable." Just as consumers understand saving will benefit them in the long run, it often boils down to whether they can manage and secure those savings.

But it's also about capacity building, she said. "We are working with organizations across the country so that they're in neighbourhoods where our audience lives and goes to school so the physical activity choice is the easy choice."

Keep in mind the importance of the cultural shift
"We're changing the country's behaviours and thought processes and I think that's what you may be trying to do as well," Murumets told the audience. "That's no small feat."

But she believes this shift is possible in the physical activity world and the financial literacy world. "With the cultural shift, it is slow, but it means taking people through the awareness all the way through to the behavioural change."

There are 25 diseases directly related to physical inactivity, she said. "It's easy to get attention to the chronic diseases, but less easy to get attention on the magic elixir called physical activity." Specifically, only 15 per cent of adults meet the recommended Canadian guidelines of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. To make things worse, childhood obesity has tripled in the last three decades.

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-- Posted December 17, 2012
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