“No matter where you are in your life, physical activity plays an important role.”
Adversity. It can come at any time and take on many different forms.
For a young Chantal Petitclerc, it came at only 13 years old when an accident stole her ability to walk. Instead of letting the accident define her, she overcame adversity using physical activity to fuel her passion for movement and to inspire others to make it a pillar of their daily lives.
Today, Chantal continues to be the definition of inspiration. From representing Grandville, Québec in the Senate of Canada, to being the most successful wheelchair racer of all-time, to a motivational speaker and dedicated mom, Chantal is a shining example of how living an active lifestyle can positively affect all aspects of life.
“No matter where you are in your life, physical activity plays an important role – like it does right now through the pandemic,” Chantal told ParticipACTION. “It’s a high priority for me, and at the same time I do have my weaknesses. Every now and then I have to remind myself to walk the talk.”
“It’s okay to fall down, life takes over, but now more than ever you need to say, ‘Okay, are these actual reasons or just excuses?’”
Like so many of us, Chantal’s weekly schedule can be extremely hectic at times. Balancing work and home life while raising a young child can make getting active difficult. But as Chantal points out, the benefits of making physical activity a priority can have some awesome impacts on your mental and physical wellbeing.
“It’s okay to fall down, life takes over, but now more than ever you need to say, ‘Okay, are these actual reasons or just excuses?’” said Chantal. “I think we have to make the conscious decision to be active. Physical activity is usually the first thing bumped off the to-do list, but it shouldn’t. The science backs it up, you’ll actually feel better and do more if you can consistently make being active a priority.”
But how? We know that getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that adults need every week can increase energy, improve sleep and boost moods, but how do we reap those benefits?
“Do a little bit every day for two weeks, because then your brain will start to think ‘This is what life is’,” Chantal explained.
“Try to create a daily habit. I know that for me, this really is the key. Even if it is just to show up and do 20 minutes of activity, but make it part of my life, like brushing my teeth. It builds a bit of a pattern where my brain and my body think ‘This is what we do now.’”
From her work as a spokesperson with Défi sportif AlterGo in Quebec to being an ambassador for the international children’s organization Right to Play, Chantal plays an important role in helping Canadians of all ages and abilities experience everything that living an active lifestyle has to offer.
“Every year I have parents telling me some amazing stories,” Chantal said. “This one family has three kids – figure skating for one, karate for the other, but the little one in the wheelchair was kind of left out of the whole dynamic. Eventually, he started to play sledge hockey and now it’s a family event to go to each activity together!”
“To me that’s one of best examples of the benefits of getting active, because physical activity isn’t just positive for individuals, it’s good for the whole family.”