What is Active Aging BC (ABC) and why do we need it?
Active Aging BC (ABC) is an evidence-based initiative that aims to enhance the health, mobility and social connectedness of older adults in British Columbia through physical activity and falls and falls-related injury prevention.
In Canada, within the next 30 years there will be two adults over age 65 for every child under age 15. This accounts for a greater increase in the proportion of adults over age 80 than any other age group. To prevent chronic diseases and enhance mental and physical health in this cohort, physical activity is key. Despite this, older adults are among the most sedentary Canadians and 85% fail to meet PA guidelines. This reality is a call to action.
The World Health Organization identifies physical inactivity as the fourth-leading risk factor for global mortality. According to British Columbia’s Ministry of Health, "the state of physical activity and inactivity in B.C. is both encouraging and troubling. Almost 64 per cent of British Columbians (age 12 and over) are active in their leisure time. Though BC residents are more active than all other Canadian provinces, about 1.5 million British Columbians are classified as inactive, and many of those who report being active do not do enough activity to achieve health benefits.”1 To do nothing is not an option. The consequence would be that those over age 65 -- the fastest-growing population in British Columbia – would increasingly rely upon expensive health care services.
To address this new reality, the Ministry of Health developed the Healthy Families BC Policy Framework in May 2014. The policy framework set the direction for development of the BC Physical Activity Strategy; Active People, Active Places. Active People Active Places supports taking action towards the guiding framework’s publicly committed 10-year target for physical activity.
As part of the BC Physical Activity Strategy, the BC Ministry of Health entered into a partnership with the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (CHHM) in March 2013. Prevention strategies such as ABC and its clear focus on physical activity and falls prevention were developed as one key strategy to enhance mobility and health and prevent injury due to falls in BC’s most important population – our older adults.
The goal of ABC is to improve the health, mobility and social connectedness of older adults in British Columbia by:
- Increasing opportunities for older adults to engage in physical activity, reduce sedentary time and become socially connected.
- Preventing falls and falls-related injury.
ABC has two areas of focus: Physical Activity and Falls and Falls-related Injury Prevention. These areas are closely intertwined. Older adults who participate in physical activity increase their balance, strength and mobility, and they fall less often. Through close partnerships with government and community organizations, CHHM is committed to deliver evidence-based strategies through ABC to enhance physical activity and prevent injury due to falls in one of BC’s most important and sometimes vulnerable population – our older adults.
1 Ministry of Health. (2015). Active People, Active Places British Columbia Physical Activity Strategy. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2015/active-people-active-places-web-2015.pdf