From the CCAA Research Junction
Chat with Visiting Aging Researcher - Dr. Shilpa Dogra
Dr. Shilpa Dogra is an assistant professor in the School of Recreation Management & Kinesiology at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Dr. Dogra is visiting London and spending her Summer conducting research at the CCAA cardiorespiratory laboratory. Welcome Dr. Dogra!
The mission of the CCAA is to promote physical activity and the well-being of older adults. Our work is critical in light of the fact that older adults are the most sedentary segment of the Canadian population.
Are the levels of physical activity among adults aged 65+ years in Nova Scotia representative of the national Canadian trend?
The overall prevalence of physical inactivity and chronic disease related to lifestyle is significantly higher in Nova Scotia when compared to Canada; however the older adults in the Wolfville area (Acadia University) are exceptionally active. Retired older adults move to the area because of all it has to offer in terms of programming and geography. In fact, Acadia University has several community based programs specifically for older adults including the Acadia Active Aging Program, Cardiac Rehabilitation Program and Acadia Lifelong Learning.
Since moving to Nova Scotia after completing your PhD at York University in Toronto, Ontario, what has been your favourite physical activity to do?
Definitely cycling! The geography around the Bay of Fundy and the Wolfville area is spectacular, with miles and miles of roads that are safe for cyclists of any skill level. It is an extremely popular activity with several groups that meet regularly during the week and on weekends. The best part of the long Sunday rides with the group is that we usually stop for lunch at a small diner or have a picnic in a scenic spot. It’s been a great way to discover the area.
One of your areas of research is the physical activity preferences of Canadians based on ethnicity and the amount of time individuals have lived in Canada. Could you summarize some of the trends you have observed?
We found that with the exception of Aboriginal groups, all ethnic minorities and immigrant groups were more likely to engage in conventional forms of exercise such as home-based exercise, aerobics, and weight training, when compared to Whites and non-immigrants, respectively. We also found that all ethnic and immigrant groups were less likely to engage in walking, endurance exercise and recreation activities and were more likely to be physically inactive.
These results are important because initiatives aimed at new immigrants and ethnic minorities generally focus on culturally orientated activities such as tai-chi for Asian populations and yoga for East-Indians; however, our results indicate that these groups are equally drawn to conventional exercise and should be offered this type of programming especially given the proven health benefits of conventional exercise.
Another area of your research focuses on asthma and exercise. What are some practical fitness tips and resources you could share for older adults with asthma?
The most important thing to remember is that asthma should not be a barrier to a physically active lifestyle for anyone. If your symptoms are acting up during exercise, be sure to talk to your doctor because this is something that can be easily rectified. Asthmatics that are physically active should take the time to warm-up properly and should avoid triggers during exercise. For example, if your asthma symptoms are triggered by cold air, avoid exercising outdoors in the winter; if your asthma symptoms are triggered by dust, then try exercising outdoors instead of in the house. The most important thing is not to give up because higher fitness levels are associated with lower severity and frequency of exercise-induced asthma as well as better overall asthma control.
Exercising with Allergies and Asthma - ACSM Public Information Brochure
Exercise Induced Asthma - ACSM Current Comment
Here in London, Ontario, the Middlesex-London in motion® initiative promotes healthy and active living. The City of London supports walking and cycling as active ways to enjoy the many special features London has to offer either as a recreational pastime or as a means of transportation. If you had the opportunity to go for a walk along one of London’s walking paths with any athlete, who would it be and why?
There are so many to choose from but I think a walk with retired tennis player John McEnroe would be incredibly entertaining!
Dr. Liza Stathokostas
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