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Fight the Challenge of Chronic Diseases


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Chronic diseases, also known as non-communicable diseases, are an increasing global epidemic. Chronic diseases kill 36 million people per year and are the leading cause of death globally. In Canada, 67% of all deaths per year are caused by four major chronic diseases: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases. Three out of five Canadians aged 20 and older have a chronic disease and four out of five people are at risk. More Canadian adults of working age (34–64 years old) are living with chronic diseases that affect their health and well-being.

There are five major risk factors for chronic diseases:

  1. Overweight/Obesity: 33% of children and youth is overweight or obese. Over 25% of adults are obese
  2. Unhealthy eating: 60% of people are not eating enough fruits and vegetables daily
  3. Physical inactivity: 50% of adults are not physically active in their leisure time. 90% of children do not meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines
  4. Smoking: 20% of people smoke daily or occasionally
  5. Alcohol: almost 15% of people (15 years old and older) exceed low risk drinking guidelines

As we age, our potential to experience multiple chronic conditions increases. The chronic disease burden can also be felt disproportionately among some vulnerable populations. For example, diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases among indigenous populations in Canada. Risk factors, along with an aging population, are driving this chronic disease challenge.



Some risks are modifiable, such as tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. These four risks are also shared among the major chronic diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases). Obesity is a key driver of chronic disease in Canada, but it can be decreased and controlled through exercising regularly and eating healthy.


How to Fight Chronic Diseases:

Getting regular, moderate-intensity exercise is critically important for men and women who want to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Exercise effectively reduces weight, overall body fat and intra-abdominal fat, a hidden risk factor for many chronic illnesses. Even if those who exercise regularly don’t see dramatic weight loss, studies indicate that people can feel confident that they are improving their health. Exercise can affect biology related to cancer and other chronic diseases not only in women, but in men as well.

Exercising regularly has a strong relationship with the reduction of chronic diseases such as colon cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The maximal magnitudes of the risk reduction reported are: 75% for breast cancer, 49% for cardiovascular and heart diseases, 35% for diabetes, 22% for colorectal cancer.




YWCA Fitness on 25th is a coed facility providing a range of fitness experiences in a welcoming environment to achieve your individual health and fitness goals. Watch for the next WYCA wellness article on our website blog and social media channels.

By Nima Nazemi



1- Canada Health Agency, Preventing Chronic Disease: Strategic Plan 2013 – 2016 <>

2- Kruk J. 2007, Physical Activity in the Prevention of the Most Frequent Chronic Diseases: An Analysis of the Recent Evidence, <>

3- Woodward K. 2007, Exercise Reduces Chronic Disease Risks, <>

Photo: Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, <>