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Regular physical activity can improve your health and help prevent chronic diseases, like arthritis, asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There are 3 levels of disease prevention:

  1. Primary Prevention. Trying to prevent yourself from getting a disease.
  2. Secondary Prevention. Trying to detect a disease early and prevent it from getting worse. That’s what this sheet is about.
  3. Tertiary Prevention. Trying to improve your quality of life and reduce the symptoms of a disease you already have.

At the secondary prevention level, we try to detect a disease early, identify risks and try to prevent the disease and its symptoms from progressing. Some of the assessments used to identify risks include blood pressure tests, blood glucose tests, cholesterol tests, bone density tests, body mass index or waist-to-hip ratio calculations, and fitness assessments.

The Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness and Lifestyle Approach (CPAFLA) is a specialized assessment that points out ways to improve health-related physical fitness. Health-related fitness includes the parts of physical fitness that are related to your health condition. It focuses on how healthy, strong and safe your heart, bones, muscles, joints and lungs are.

Here are some steps to take if you’d like to use physical activity as a form of secondary prevention: 

How to decide if physical activity is right for you.

  • Call the Physical Activity Line and fill out a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q). If you answer yes to any of the PAR-Q questions, you should see your doctor for a PARmed-X exam.
  • Have a fitness assessment and/ or lifestyle appraisal by a qualified exercise professional.
  • If you have a family history of health problems, are overweight or obese, or haven’t been physically active for several years, you should talk to your doctor before becoming more active.

How to overcome barriers to physical activity.

  • See the Barriers to being physically active and Overcoming barriers sheets, listed below.

What types of activities to do.

  • There are 3 types of activities to keep your body healthy:
  • Activities for strong bones and muscles.
  • Activities for safe and healthy joints and muscles.
  • Activities for healthy and strong heart and lungs.
  • Adults should work toward doing 30 or more minutes of moderate activity 5-7 days per week. Children and youth should do 90 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Remember, activity doesn’t have to be done all at once. It can be done 10-15 minutes at a time.

Things to keep in mind.

  • See the Warming up, Cooling down, Injury prevention, How much activity is enough and How to stay active sheets, listed below.

Click to view the PDF version of this document: PDF File

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The health information provided on this website is only a guide. You also need to rely on your common sense and good judgment. If you receive advice from a doctor or health professional that does not agree with the information provided here, follow the advice of your doctor or health professional since it is based on your specific history and needs.

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