Research tells us very clearly that exercise is vital to health. In fact, this has been knowledge from the time of the Roman philosopher Juvenal who proclaimed mens sana in copore sano (that means “pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.”) (Satire X, line 356).
In the modern world between the demands of work and family, finding time to do anything that might nurture your own body and well-being is often bottom of the “to do list,” yet, it’s just like they say when you board an airplane: “In the event of trouble, please put on your own air mask before assisting others.” Truly, if you’re not at your best, you can’t do what you have to do to the best of your ability.
So, having accepted that you really do need to invest in your own health, how do you make the switch? A healthy community is one that can help you figure that out. As a lifelong couch potato since leaving school and the intensity of playing hockey (that would be field hockey – equally as tough as the hockey on ice but with a lot less padding), I was forced by my own ill health into figuring out how to be more active. At the beginning, all I could handle was walking. And I walked lots. I found all kinds of trails and pathways that wound through my neighbourhood. In some cases, I found myself away from a city setting and in nature not a very far distance from where I started. I had never seen these areas, never even noticed their existence from my car. I began to venture further afield and visited many of the parks in our city. I began to realize Prince George could really be called the city of parks.
I graduated from walking into running, and now my stamina and fitness is such that I have been able to enroll my little dog, Squid, into agility classes – and I can keep up! He is a young and incredibly smart little dog. If I don’t keep him well exercised he gets into mischief. The sad fact is that although I can keep up with him in terms of speed, he is far better than me at the actual agility and is excelling in the class. I, on the other hand, am in danger of flunking out.
However, that aside, I run – and run hard – without noticing because I am too busy figuring out where my left side is supposed to be in a rear cross (that is, a sequence in dog agility.) This has become my thing – the one thing that gives such pleasure that I am exercising without even noticing. This wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been able to start small and with much gratitude to the planners who built these spaces into our neighborhoods.
A healthy community is one that has a wide range of options to help you find your “one thing” that will work for you. Whether it’s a weekly one hour in the local pool with a child, hiking local trails or becoming a roller derby queen, there is something in your community that will entice you away from the couch, the TV or the warmth of that early morning “one more snooze button” state. For me, exploring my city slowly on foot morphed into running which has opened so many more options – such as the agility class – that I never expected. What is your one thing going to be?
[Editor's note: This is a great example of what the key message "It takes a whole community working together to create healthy environments" means to Theresa. Tell us what it means to you! Visit our Picture YOU Healthy contest page for more details on your chance to win!]
About Theresa Healy
Theresa is the regional manager for healthy community development with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about the capacity of individuals, families and communities across northern B.C. to be partners in health and wellness. As part of her own health and wellness plan, she has taken up running and, more recently, weight lifting. She is also a “new-bee” bee-keeper and a devoted new grandmother. Theresa is an avid historian, writer and researcher who also holds an adjunct appointment at UNBC that allows her to pursue her other passionate love - teaching.