The University of Winnipeg’s (U of W) Andrea Bedard confirms that sitting is the new smoking, but luckily, the instructor barely has time to do so between teaching, raising a family and advocating for physical activity in the community.
Bedard’s been in the faculty of kinesiology and applied health for the past nine years, specializing in exercise for special populations, including seniors and folks with disabilities. She says a passion for fitness was sparked in high school, while a focus on how older folks stay active was inspired by her grandparents.
“When I was in my second year (of university), my grandparents decided they wanted to learn how to swim,” Bedard says. “I was so impressed with the bravery that it took to learn to swim at age 75, that (it) put seniors’ exercise on my radar, and I’ve never left that.”
Bedard says that when it comes to working with an older population, there are a lot of cultural myths to dispel.
“We used to find that seniors thought they got to rest after work was done, that they didn’t have to do anything,” she says. “A number of individuals felt that women shouldn’t be active … I’ve had ladies show up in skirts who didn’t own a pair of running shoes.”
Are things better for generations since? Yes and no. Bedard says more and more people understand the benefits of physical activity, but that an age of technology has people sitting down all day and choosing to stay inactive.
“It’s funny, we have this continuum. We have yoga, which is quite gentle … and we have crossfit, and we have these two extremes,” she says. “People think I don’t like this and I don’t like that, so I’m not going to do anything.”
You don’t have to kill yourself in the weight room to reap the benefits, Bedard promises.
Do you have any pets?: I have one cat, and she hates the world. She’s not mean, she just doesn’t care about anything.
What superpower would you most want?: I want to be able to clone myself … there are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do for my family and my work and my community.
What is your pet peeve as an instructor?: Not having yourself organized. I recognize how hard it is to be a student … but you don’t tell a single mother that you don’t have time to do something.