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Canadian Physiotherapy Association Springs into Action
by Shari-Lynn Sare
April 4, 2004

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) is gearing up to celebrate National Physiotherapy Month (NPM) 2004, taking place from Earth Day weekend through to Victoria Day Monday (April 24 to May 24, 2004). The theme for 2004 is “Spring into Action” with S.M.A.R.T. Gardening, S.M.A.R.T. Golfing, S.M.A.R.T. Running and S.M.A.R.T. Walking.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for (Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain, Talk to a physiotherapist).

In celebrating the 20th year of NPM activities, special events will be organized by physiotherapy clinics and Association Branches across the country aimed at encouraging Canadians to gain and maintain their personal mobility. Events will include fun runs and walks, information booths at garden and golf shows, open houses, safety and stretching demonstrations, fitness clinics, seminars, lecture series’ on health and fitness issues, and more. The public can contact their provincial physiotherapy association office for a listing of events in their area (contact information for provincial offices are found at CPA’s web site:

NPM promotes physiotherapy and its benefits on a national level. Physiotherapists want the public, other health care providers and governments to be aware of the important role physiotherapy plays in the health of Canadians. With their applied knowledge and understanding of the human body in action, physiotherapists work with their patients to increase mobility, relieve pain, build strength, improve balance and cardiovascular function. They not only treat injury, but they also explain how to prevent injury and the onset of pain that may limit activity.

In the most recent CPA/Ipsos Reid National Mobility Study, the findings showed that many Canadians face mobility challenges and most believe they are losing mobility as they get older. Canadians need to improve their mobility in order to ensure a good quality of life, now and in future years.

Participating in safe and enjoyable activities begins with the S.M.A.R.T. approach (Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain and Talk to a physiotherapist). The Canadian Physiotherapy Association recommends key S.M.A.R.T. tips for gardeners, golfers, runners and walkers:

Stretch: As a warm-up before, as a break during and as a cool-down after activity, stretching is important for physical mobility. It helps you to move easily, keeps your muscles flexible and relaxed, your joints mobile and relieves tension and strain.

Move: Moving properly and efficiently creates less strain on the body. Get moving. Keep moving. Stay moving. Through the seasons. Through life. Gardening, golfing, running and walking are excellent examples of activities that get your whole body in motion.

Add it up: An hour is power. Adding up the time spent doing particular activities, along with pacing and rotating them, frequently eases tension in strained muscles. To gain and maintain your mobility aim for a minimum of 60 minutes of activity every day.

Reduce strain: Use tools and gear that work for you. They are meant to ease work, not cause additional strain. Take measures to fit your gardening tools, golf clubs and running shoes to you, not you to them. Physiotherapists encourage Canadians to keep active with sensible exercises suited to their age and physical condition.

Talk to a physiotherapist: Physiotherapists are the health professionals dedicated to enhancing and restoring your mobility. Physiotherapy’s unique contribution to health care stems from its advanced understanding of how the body moves, what keeps it from moving well and how to restore mobility.

Here are some of the key findings from the CPA / Ipsos-Reid poll that are directly relevant to gardeners, golfers, runners and walkers:

  • Majority of Canadians (62%) have difficulty taking part in vigorous activities like running, lifting heavy objects or participating in strenuous sports;
  • More than half of Canadians (54%) believe they are less mobile than they were 10 years ago.
  • One quarter (28%) of Canadians have difficulty bending, kneeling or stooping.
  • One quarter (24%) of Canadians have difficulty walking a kilometer.
  • About 42% of those who lost mobility say it has negatively affected their quality of life. This represents about one quarter (23%) of Canadians.

The joint CPA / Ipsos-Reid poll surveyed 2000 Canadians age 18 and older regarding physical mobility. The poll focused on assessing Canadians’ perceptions of their mobility, their actual ability to move and carry out specific activities and personal initiatives being undertaken to maintain mobility. The results of the poll are accurate +/- 2.2 %, 19 times out of 20.

Information Sheets on how to be a S.M.A.R.T. Gardener, Golfer, Runner and Walker are found at the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s website at Here, the public can also take the interactive Mobility Quiz and find helpful tips on improving physical mobility at any age.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) is the voluntary organization representing 10,000 members and students across the country. CPA’s S.M.A.R.T. approach, along with the NPM 2004 theme of gardening, golfing, running and walking, is an opportunity for CPA members to let Canadians learn more about physiotherapists’ efforts in health promotion and prevention, and their role in the health care community.


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