MPP Sophie Kiwala Wellness ChallengeThe following is shared with permission from the Blog of MPP Sophie Kiwala.

I had a moment of quiet reflection recently, where I realized that I have been working in the political field for 9 years, and that we are fast approaching the two-year mark since I was elected as your Member for Provincial Parliament. What an absolute honour and privilege it has been to serve the constituents of Kingston and the Islands, and the people of Ontario! I absolutely love the work that I do, and I am continually inspired by the depth of caring and compassion at the root of so many personal and professional projects in our community.

One of the best parts about being an MPP is meeting with individuals, groups and organizations about the initiatives they are working on and seeing how we can all work better together to improve our community. It brings me great joy to work with you and for you in the community and to advocate on your behalf when I am at Queen’s Park. If only for more hours in the day!

Like some of you, striking the appropriate work-life balance is a constant struggle for me. The job of an MPP never seems to be done and, for those of you who may be reading this and know me well, it is not uncommon for me to send e-mail correspondence in the wee hours of the morning. I have never been a good sleeper, but at times these long hours take their toll. I know that I am not alone when it comes to pushing the boundaries of my workday and I am sure that many of you reading this can relate. We all know that self-care is of the utmost importance: in order to serve a position well, we also need to take care of our health, which includes being physically active. But do we truly commit? Many of us who lead extremely busy lives have difficulty finding the time, and frankly, sometimes the motivation and the energy! When presented with the choice to work for a few more hours, or pause to look after myself and attend to my personal fitness – I am often guilty of choosing longer hours of work. It is easy to do when you love your work.

This April is Kingston Gets Active (KGA) Month and I have decided to make both a personal and public pledge to make time for physical activity. No time like the present! I am excited to commit to the KGA wellness challenge, and I hope that many of you fellow and sister workaholics will do the same.

Regular physical fitness has been proven to improve health and quality of life and reduce the risk of chronic disease, disability and premature death. Physical activity has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and some forms of cancer. As a strong advocate for improving mental health, it is also important for me to note that physical activity has been shown to contribute significantly to psychological well-being and reducing the rate of depression and anxiety.

Despite all the known benefits, the 2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey found that 85% of Canadian adults currently do not meet the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week.

Our children and youth are struggling even more profoundly. The most recent Canadian Health Measures Survey found that roughly 95% of Canadian children and youth do not get the recommended amount of physical activity. Furthermore, the older children get, the less physical activity they get. As of 2011, 31.5% of Canadian children and youth were overweight and obese. These numbers are both shocking and unacceptable – we need to continue to do more to better the physical fitness of our children; and KGA month is a great opportunity to do this as a family. Challenge your children to at least equal time on fitness as has been spent on computers and electronic devices.

As part of KGA Month, I am pledging to raise the bar and committing to a minimum of 210 minutes of exercise a week—an average of 30 minutes a day. And I will be held accountable! I will keep you updated on my progress though my Twitter and Facebook feeds with the hashtag #onestepatatime. I will also post tips, fun projects and initiatives that are happening in our community, with the hopes of increasing participation. I would love more than anything for you to engage with me on social media: it would be an absolute pleasure to do this together by supporting and challenging one another.

I would also like to extend an invitation for you to join me for several lunch hour walks and other KGA community activities that I will be engaged in throughout April:

  • April 2nd at 10 a.m. for a nature walk at Lemoine Point to kick-off KGA month.
  • April 10th at 9:30 a.m. for my 5k walk/run for CDC.
  • April 15th at 1 2-303 Bagot St. as we ‘walk and talk’ about promoting arts and culture in Kingston.
  • April 17th at 3:30 p.m. at Queen’s ARC for an indoor cycle class.
  • April 24th at 11 a.m. at the Kingston Gymnastics Club for their open house.
  • April 25th at 1 p.m. outside my constituency office (2-303 Bagot St.) for a lunch hour walk focused on discussing environmental issues in our community.
  • April 27th at 6:30 p.m. at the Kingston YMCA for a Bollywood dance class.
  • April 28th at 1 p.m. at 2-303 Bagot St. for a lunch hour walk to discuss mental health concerns and initiatives in Kingston and the Islands.

Kingston Gets Active is offering many more free classes and activities all month long and I encourage you to view their calendar of events.

Physical fitness and living an active and healthy lifestyle is something that is important to each and every one of us. I encourage you all to join me in getting active, because together we can do it, one step at a time!


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