AFN Launches Fitness Challenge on National Aboriginal Diabetes Awareness Day

    OTTAWA, May 1 /CNW Telbec/ - On May 1, 2009, National Aboriginal Diabetes
Awareness Day, the Assembly of First Nations is calling on teachers for help
in organizing this year's Fitness Challenge which is aimed at First Nations
students. The goal of the fitness challenge is to raise awareness about the
positive relationship between diabetes and healthy living.
    AFN Regional Chief Angus Toulouse and AFN Women's Council Chair Kathleen
McHugh felt it was especially important to target First Nations youth in this
year's challenge.
    "We hope this challenge will help to raise awareness about diabetes among
our children and youth in a fun and dynamic way," said AFN Regional Chief
Angus Toulouse, who holds the portfolio for health. "We're seeing very young
children diagnosed with this disease in our communities. The average age of
diagnosis is 11 years old, according to the First Nation's Regional
Longitudinal Health Survey. It's important to empower youth with knowledge
about healthy living."
    "Obesity is a contributing factor to diabetes. Healthy eating and
exercise can help control risks associated with diabetes," said AFN Women
Council Chair Kathleen McHugh. "This challenge represents one way that
educators and leadership can work together to teach youth about the positive
relationship between exercise and diabetes."
    The challenge will start on October 14, 2009 and run for one month,
wrapping up on November 14th, World Diabetes Day. Students are encouraged to
participate in teams and to engage in 30 minutes of physical activity each
day, in ten minute intervals. This can include sports, or activities as simple
as walking or dancing. Top performers and top teams will have their names
entered into a draw, and winners will be announced in December. Contest rules,
information about prizes and other details will be posted on the AFN website
by the end of May. This information is also available by contacting the AFN.
    Aerobic exercise and resistance exercise can help people with diabetes
better control their blood sugar levels, by burning fat and glucose. Diabetics
are also in a high-risk group for heart disease and stroke and exercise can
help reduce the risk.
    Diabetes is 3 to 5 times more common among First Nations than the general
population. Almost all families are touched by the disease, either directly,
or through friends and neighbours. Many First Nations children and youth are
at high risk of developing diabetes due to a lack of exercise, poor nutrition,
and obesity.
    The AFN is recommending that participants consult a physician before
starting a new fitness program. Participants do not have to be diabetic to
take part. The Fitness Challenge is open to all.

    This is the AFN's second Fitness Challenge. Last year's Fitness Challenge
targeted leadership. More than 40 teams participated across the country with
team sizes ranging from 5 to 10 members and ages ranging from 10 to 80 years
old. By targeting students this year's challenge seeks to pass the torch from
leadership to youth.
    The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations in

For further information:

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, Health Communications, (613)

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