Healthy Living in the North

Fatherhood, community, and culture: Reflections on parenting in Prince Rupert with Duane Jackson

Duane Jackson and daughter

Between his professional and personal life, Duane Jackson has had the opportunity to glean a great deal of wisdom with a child-centred focus.

Duane Jackson has worn many hats in his years serving children and families on the Northwest Coast. His many positions held include former Aboriginal Coordinator for Success by Six and Regional Coordinator for Children First. He now works with the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society as a Trainer/Facilitator and Employment Counsellor. Jackson is also co-chair on the Aboriginal Steering Committee with the Human Early Learning Partnership.

Most importantly, Jackson is a family man – he and his wife are the proud parents of three children. Between his professional and personal life, Duane Jackson has had the opportunity to glean a great deal of wisdom with a child-centred focus.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I grew up on the Northwest Coast, but I’m Gitanmaax from Old Hazelton. I actually lived at one of the fishing canneries, North Pacific Cannery on Inverness Passage, when it was an operating cannery – now it’s a museum! I’ve been in Prince Rupert the majority of my life, grade 3 on, and went to high school here.

When I was 26, I met my wife, Christine, and we’ve been together for 23 years now. We have three children, a 17-year-old, a 14-year-old and an 8-year-old.

As a father of three, what have you found most unexpected in fatherhood?

I didn’t expect it to be the humbling experience that it was. I realized right from the birth of my first child that the importance of this job was so completely over and above anything that I understood in my life at that point. This small individual was going to encompass me so completely. With my first boy, with Caleb – I actually never put him down once! I carried him everywhere. I never put him in a buggy or a stroller; I carried him. He was in my arms all the time.

The biggest thing was the level of humility that was required, and the beauty of that was how much growth was involved in that process because of the fact that if you don’t embrace that humility, it will totally uproot you.

You graduated from college at age 40 and immediately began your work in serving children and families. How do your life experiences and education combine in your approach to your life and work?

Throughout my Early Childhood Education learning, the one thing that really got me was advocacy. But then of course, according to my culture, as a Gitanmaax person, I must advocate for children. Every child within my society is my responsibility. Not every Gitanmaax child, every child. My culture speaks to it, and as an Early Childhood Educator, my code of conduct speaks to it as well, that every child is my responsibility.

Prince Rupert harbour front

For Duane, Prince Rupert’s many activities and diverse population make it a healthy community for kids. Access to activities, however, can be a challenge.

What makes Prince Rupert a healthy community for children?

We have many activities for children, from minor league soccer and basketball, to the recreation centre for more activities. But we must remember that Prince Rupert is leading the province in unemployment. There is a huge societal barrier to accessing some of these activities. It’s not just Indigenous people who believe these programs just aren’t for them. It’s societal. In Canada we have the lowest percentage, globally, of children and families who access community programming.

We see a lot of families out at some great community events here: the Halloween Fest, the Winter Fest, the Children’s Festival … you see all generations of families out together, from the elders down to the smallest children.

One of the things I am always excited to see is children from diverse backgrounds who speak their language. Not just Indigenous languages, but all cultural groups. When they speak the language of their parents, I think that’s really exciting. You see that a lot here in Prince Rupert because there are many ethnicities represented here.

In your opinion, what small things do you do, that others can do, that may have big impacts in supporting healthy childhoods?

I think it’s in doing things together – doing activities together – and getting kids off of the computer. Getting kids off of screens! We’re steadily raising a generation of young people that will not have the ability to communicate effectively and positively. There’s just no amount of emoticons that you are going to attach to a text message that are actually going to tell me how you feel. This is starting younger and younger. You can go to a restaurant and see a family of four where all four people are on screens, no one is having a conversation. At our table here at home, where we have dinner together every night, there are no phones. My phone goes away. I have that deal with my family – and we talk. At the table – no one is watching TV!

These are the pieces – do things together, be involved, be supportive. And not just going out and watching your children do their activities. One of the most exciting things for me this year was having my daughter come and watch me coach basketball. She would come and watch my team play, and watch me coach. Bring your children with you into a social setting so that they can see how you are in that setting. All of us are different in our own homes than in a social setting. I think the secret is to get your children out with you in social events.

Knowing what you know now – if you were to go back to those early years with your children – what would you try to do more of with them?

Play, play, play. Hold onto them as much as possible, which is what I do now – even with the older boy and my 14-year-old. Squash ’em, squash ’em, squash ’em as much as I can! And never show them anger. I can show them disappointment, I tell my children I can be disappointed with your decisions, but at no time, ever, are you a disappointment.

If I were to go back, punishment would go out the door. I would go with restorative justice. I would walk, and talk, and teach and do nothing else but that.

If I was to talk to a parent, or talk to myself when I was a new parent, I’d tell them just to love and give and respect your children unconditionally. To give them these three things throughout our lives together and expect nothing in return. That’s what I would do … and advise.


This article first appeared in Healthier You magazine. Find the original story and lots of other information about child health in the Summer 2016 issue:

Andrea Palmer

About Andrea Palmer

Andrea Palmer is a Communications Advisor with the Health Promotions Team at Northern Health. Born and raised in southern B.C., Andrea now embraces the North in large part for all the fun, healthy activities and opportunities uniquely accessible in our region including snowboarding, cross-country skiing, outdoor skating, wild berry picking, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, fishing and the bracing experience of jogging in the snow!

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Cast away my friend!

Fly rod and ties

For Reg, “Fly fishing is truly an art. It’s the art of reading the water and finding that elusive quarry. It’s the art of picking the right fly and casting it so smoothly that it barely ripples the water’s surface when it lands. However, it all begins with the art of convincing your wife that you need to go fishing.”

I have to admit, the last few weekends have been busy. Between laying flooring, hanging a door, and cutting/installing/painting trim and baseboard, there’s been little time for anything else. Well, not much other than multiple trips to the hardware store and re-hanging the door because the walls aren’t straight and I wasn’t happy the first time around!

But now that I’m finished renovating, I can turn my attention to more important things. It’s time to go fishing!

Now, I’m not talking about fishing from a boat or sitting in a lawn chair beside the Skeena River with your rod in a rod holder. I’m talking about putting on the neoprene waders and getting out fly-fishing.

Have you ever tried it?

Brook trout

A brook trout is one of several fish that you can find in our region’s rivers!

In addition to being fun, fly-fishing has some real health benefits.

  • Fly-fishing is a great way to get some exercise, as you need to move around to do it. As well, there’s the resistance provided by walking in water and weight from wearing a vest filled with gear. Fly-fishing is low impact and provides exercise for your upper body as well as your lower body. Try spending a day fly casting and wading through a stream. I guarantee you’ll feel it at the end of the day!
  • Fly-fishing is a great way to challenge yourself mentally. It takes skill and knowledge to read a stream and find those elusive fish. There’s also a bit of practice needed when it comes to casting a fly rod. But don’t be discouraged! The basics can be learned quickly and after a bit of instruction, you can be out there casting away. To be honest, fly-fishing can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.
  • Many fly-fishermen also tie their own flies. My stepfather, who was a great fly-fisherman, tied his own flies and built custom fly rods. He even sold enough flies to buy a camper for his truck! If you enjoy being creative, fly-fishing provides many ways to express that creativity. But be warned, it takes a lot of flies to pay for a camper!
  • Fly-fishing is also a great way to reduce the stress in your life. It takes you back to nature and helps you focus on the moment. It can also provide a chance to socialize with other anglers. That said, if solitude is what you prefer, being alone on a beautiful stream is a great place to be.
  • I’m sure you’ve heard that eating fish can be part of a healthy diet, too, as fish are a good source of Omega-3 fats. Why can’t that source be a freshly caught trout or salmon?
Fish in a net

“The best fish stories begin with small fish and big imaginations.”

Now that you’re itching to go fishing, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Always check the regulations and make sure you have the appropriate licences.
  2. Make sure you’re prepared for the weather.
  3. Let someone know where you’re going.
  4. Take the appropriate precautions in bear country.

Northern British Columbia has some great opportunities to catch a variety of fish. Why not give fly-fishing a try? After all, what’s the worst that can happen, other than getting hooked?

Just don’t expect me to tell you where my sweet spots are!

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a licensing officer with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace as well as a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out, and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.

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Ringing the gong

Boy beside a shooting target

With his son wanting to give target shooting a try, Reg took him out to the local range in Terrace. For Reg, it’s all about being involved and “it’s not really about target shooting.”

I have to admit that during my time in the army, I really enjoyed the time spent on the firing range. Now, I haven’t done any target shooting for a long time, but it’s something that I’ve recently gotten back into. It’s also something my youngest son wanted to try, so we’ve been spending time at the local rifle range in Terrace.

At the back of the small-bore range, a steel gong has been set up at a distance of about one hundred yards. It’s not all that easy to hit considering that we’re shooting a .22 caliber rifle without the aid of a scope. Nonetheless, my son likes to try to hit it.

To be honest, it’s not really about target shooting. It’s about being an involved father and acknowledging the role fathers play in the healthy development of their children. With June 19 being Father’s Day this year, it’s an important topic to talk about.

Being an involved father takes work, but the impact you have on your child’s life is huge. To be an involved father takes consistency, compassion, attention, and time. However, it’s worth the effort.

  • Involved fathers bolster their child’s cognitive development. They help their children develop critical thinking skills, motivation, communication skills, and a sense of independence that will benefit them throughout their lifetimes.
  • Children of involved fathers develop better social skills and ways to cope with the emotional stresses of life. Involved fathers can teach their children how to develop empathy and strong friendships. These skills last a lifetime and help children learn how to build successful relationships.
  • Involved fathers provide a good role model for their children. Having a good role model can help children stay clear of problems with the law or issues with substance abuse.
  • Not only do children benefit from involved fathers, but the relationship between father and mother can benefit as well. I’m sure you’ve heard that old saying about a happy wife.
Taking aim at a shooting range.

What fun ways can you connect with your kids?

While I mentioned that being an involved father takes work, it’s important to remember that you also need to find some fun ways to connect with your children. Put on a cape and become a sidekick for your superhero son. Grab an apron and join your daughter’s tea party. Find a way to be a part of your child’s world.

Last time we went to the range, my son loaded ten rounds and told me that he was going to shoot all of them at the gong. After he hit it on the first shot, he looked at me, smiled slightly and raised one finger. When he raised five fingers, his smile was a little bigger.

I have to admit; at this point, I thought I was doing a good job with teaching him to shoot.

However, speaking as a father, I know it won’t always be this way. You won’t always hit the target, let alone the bulls-eye. There will be times when you’re tired, frustrated and bewildered.

Fatherhood can be trying.

Still, there will be many more times when you do hit the bulls-eye. There will be moments that make you smile and realize that being a father is one of the greatest joys a man can experience.

Like when my son raised 10 fingers and gave me one of the biggest smiles I’d ever seen.

So on this Father’s Day, go out and make a few more of those moments to cherish.

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a licensing officer with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace as well as a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out, and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.

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Spotlight on an Award-Winner: POWERPLAY

The 2015 Healthier You Awards held late last fall was a wonderful way to highlight the innovative work being done across sectors in improving the health of northerners. Northern Health benefitted with a number of nominations and wins for our staff and partners in healthcare. The strong role Northern Health plays in our communities was well recognized.

Photo of award winner holding a plaque

Healthy Workplace for Small Business Award

Nominated in two categories for the 2015 Healthier You Awards (including The Health and Wellness Innovator Award category), the POWERPLAY program won the Healthy Workplace for Small Business Award. POWERPLAY is a workplace-wellness program with a men’s health focus targeting physical activity and healthy eating. It was developed and implemented in four male-dominated workplaces in Northern British Columbia.

POWERPLAY was designed with messages that would appeal to men, friendly competition and self-monitoring to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The program was piloted by 4 businesses from October 2014 to March 2015: Two in Prince George (Lomak Bulk Carriers and Excel Transportation), one in Prince Rupert (Ridley Terminals), and one in Terrace (City of Terrace). There were significant increases in physical activity after the program was implemented.

This award is shared by many. Through a multi-sectoral partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society, BC Cancer Agency, Northern Health and researchers at the University of British Columbia and Athabasca University (with funding from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute), there were almost 20 individuals directly responsible for making this program a great success!

One of those responsible is Cherisse Seaton. Cherisse is a Research Coordinator at the Centre for Healthy Living. We had a chance to ask Cherisse a few questions about her work; her answers show her passion for the program and northern BC:

1.) You were nominated for this award in recognition of a particular aspect of your work – why do you think this project stands out to people?

There has been an increasing focus on men’s health, in part because there is a real gender disparity in health – men access health care at lower rates than women do. There is a need for innovative strategies for reaching more men. The POWERPLAY program was developed to help fill this need and the program was designed to be flexible so it could be implemented in a variety of workplaces in northern BC.

2.) What would you most like people to know about the work you do?

About half of all cancers can be prevented and we know that lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, as well as healthy eating, and active living can reduce the incidence of cancer. Northern Health, The Canadian Cancer society, and the BC Cancer Agency are working together to ensure strong and unified services to northerners, and this project will help inform future harmonized work. As researchers, we are collaborating with the health-care agencies to target cancer prevention strategies in northern B.C.

Together the team designed and delivered the POWERPLAY program and ensured that it was evidence-based. For example, we conducted a systematic review of the literature for “best practices” for men’s health promotion. We also brought the preliminary program components to focus groups of men in Prince George to get their feedback and input making the program designed for and by northern men.
Finally, conducting research also allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs. For the POWERPLAY program, we completed surveys with the program participants both before and after the program was implemented, so we could determine what worked and what didn’t. The feedback we got from program participants is now being used to make further modification to the POWERPLAY program before it is offered at future worksites.

3.) What do you love about living and working in Northern BC?

Although in my position with this project I am a UBC employee, I am located here in Prince George to oversee all the research activities. I am from Prince George, and I value the opportunities to embrace the outdoors, being close to my family, and the close-knit community with all the City amenities.

Would you like to see POWERPLAY in your community? Resources to support POWERPLAY implementation in a variety of male-dominated worksites are under development, and the team is now looking for partners in order to continue to offer the program in workplaces across northern BC.

If you are interested in partnering with us to offer the award-winning POWERPLAY program please contact the Research Coordinator, Cherisse Seaton (Cherisse.seaton@ubc.ca).

Andrea Palmer

About Andrea Palmer

Andrea Palmer is a Communications Advisor with the Health Promotions Team at Northern Health. Born and raised in southern B.C., Andrea now embraces the North in large part for all the fun, healthy activities and opportunities uniquely accessible in our region including snowboarding, cross-country skiing, outdoor skating, wild berry picking, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, fishing and the bracing experience of jogging in the snow!

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Tales from the Man Cave: Don’t resolve – just stay active!

Winter landscape

For Jim, his camera is “a fine companion that ensures that I will park my vehicle and get active by walking through the snow to take photographs of the scenes I’ve spotted.” How can you stay active in the winter?

As I look out my window at a cold, bleak day, all the revelry of the holiday season is fast dissipating, and I am now faced with a dreadful reality. Tradition dictates that I must somehow “resolve” to change in the new year. And so, off I go “resolving” to do many great deeds of magnificent valor!

It seems almost inevitable that these things, grand as they may be, are stopped in their tracks by mid-February by the lack of forethought or plan. This is why I’ve written about SMART and SMARTER goals instead of resolutions before! They work!

Don’t resolve, just stay active!

According to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Living, activity plays an important role in quality of life and feeling of well-being that Canadians experience. It is also noted that active people live longer, more productive lives and are more likely to avoid illness and injury.

In the north, we are blessed by beautiful surroundings.

Getting out and enjoying the northern weather in winter is of course something that is wonderful. Just think of skating on a frozen lake on a sunny day, skiing or snowboarding on our amazing hills, or snowshoeing through the forest. And being active doesn’t have to mean snow sports, of course. Snow shovel, anyone?

With all of these activities, there should be a thought towards the issue of safety. Think proper footwear and clothing and a knowledge of the hazards of our beautiful northern winters, like the dangers of the cold and slipping on ice. Once prepared, then enjoy and have your spirits lifted!

Winter landscape in daytime

Heading out to take photos? Be sure to check the conditions and let someone know where you’re going!

For me, a camera is a fine companion that ensures that I will park my vehicle and get active by walking through the snow to take photographs of the scenes I’ve spotted. If you are doing this, I would suggest from experience letting someone know where you are going. Better still, take someone along for the ride! Remember to check out the weather conditions before setting out so that you can dress accordingly.

Not everyone can do the outdoors thing, but for those who can, there is often the bonus of fresh crisp air and the heat of the sun, even on the coldest days. Not to mention the birds, elk, moose and breathtaking scenery! For those with conditions like asthma who can’t tolerate the cold air, there is sometimes the opportunity to go to an indoor mall or other facility and either walk in a group or individually. Organized walks indoors also bring the benefits of being around other people so the activity is enhancing both physical and mental well-being. Look for these facilities in your local community and join a group. It will help with motivation!

Winter can be a trying time for all of us but with a little preparation and some forethought (think SMART goal-setting!) we can fill our winter months with activity and be healthier individuals and communities by spring!

So don’t focus on things like weight or resolutions. Rather, set a SMART goal, start moving and keep moving. It’ll do you good!

Stay well. Only 3 months left. Well, OK … 4, maybe 5?

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Tales from the Man Cave: Cancer awareness

A cairn on a rocky surface

The month of November is an important time for men’s health and men’s cancer awareness. Look out for the signs along the way!

Have you seen any extra stubble in your community over the last three days?

November is a great month for cancer support for men because all the lads seem to grow extra-long moustaches to raise awareness for the cause of prostate cancer. This is a good cause, indeed, and needs more support, however I am continually reminded that when it comes to cancer, there is more than the prostate involved and that testing for prostate cancer is something that needs careful discussion with your doctor. Approximately 4,100 men die each year from prostate cancer in Canada.

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, which advises doctors on the benefits of the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA), recommends that screening by PSA should not be done without detailed discussion with the man involved as there are risks involved from harms done through unnecessary treatment.

This is largely due to the nature of the different types of prostate cancer, some of which grow very slowly and some of which are fast-growing. Dr. Mike has a great explanatory video on YouTube.

What about those other cancers? Here’s a short rundown of the worst offenders:

Take testicular cancer, for example. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, in Canada in 2010, 40 men died from testicular cancer.

This is a cancer that can be cured if discovered early and that is why we encourage men (especially young men) to check themselves out. It is a sad thing to lose so many young men to this and it is better to go through life with one less than the alternative.

TIP: Check for lumps or bumps in the shower. 15 -35 is the most common age group for testicular cancer but it can occur at any age so just keep an eye out for anything that isn’t normal for you. HealthLinkBC has some more information on examining yourself.

Similarly, colorectal cancer kills approximately 5,100 men according to Canadian Cancer Society and is silent until well-developed.

That’s why the FIT test is recommended every two years after 50 years of age. This can be followed up by colonoscopy if anything requires further exploration.

Diets high in red meat and processed meats are a risk factor. Physical inactivity is a risk factor, as is obesity, smoking and heavy alcohol use. Diets high in vegetables and fruit lower risk and perhaps offer some protection.

Lung cancer is responsible for 10,900 deaths per year in Canada. Smoking causes 50% of all lung cancers – which is one of the reasons we keep saying “please stop smoking.” If everybody stopped smoking, there would be 5,450 fewer deaths from this disease within a few short years. There are currently no screening tests for lung cancer.

Skin cancer is also rising in numbers. HealthLinkBC has a good article here on what to look for.

The common thread? Changes.

No matter what it is: unusual lumps or bumps, changes in bowel habit, coughing up blood or blood in the toilet. Don’t be embarrassed – go get it checked out! Keep an eye on moles and if you see changes, you know what to do! Yes – check it out with your doctor!

If you bury your head in the sand, they might just bury the rest of you with it.

It only takes a simple appointment. And while you’re at it, ask what other screening options are available to you.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Being a little more active

Four adults walking and jogging on a running track

How can you build 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity into your week?

For most of us, being a little more active is something that would bring benefits.

I don’t know about you, but it seems far too easy for me to be able to find some reason not to do my recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more. This is recommended for all adults, myself included, who are somewhere between 18 and 64 years of age. Well, at least I’m on some part of that spectrum – LOL!

One would think that doing 15 episodes of moderate to vigorous activity in ten minute periods should be easy. It’s easier than you think, but you may need to change your expectations and what you define as “activity.”

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines tell us to mix up moderate and vigorous intensity activities while also adding in muscle and bone strengthening:

  • Moderate-intensity physical activities will cause adults to sweat a little and to breathe harder. This includes activities like riding a bike or walking at a pace.
  • Vigorous-intensity physical activities will cause adults to sweat and be “out of breath.” This includes activities like jogging or cross country skiing.
  • Muscle / bone-strengthening activities help to build strength and balance. This includes activities like yoga or working with weights.

Here’s the link to the different guidelines for all ages. There are also very good suggestions for achieving your goals.

Baseball diamond.

What facilities exist in your community to support you to be more active?

So why does it feel so difficult to keep the activity going?

I think life continually gets in the way and while we’re motivated at some periods, there are always competing interests for our time and so it becomes easy to fall out of if it isn’t a part of our routines.

If you build it into your life, health will come!

Looking at the guidelines, it seems that if we try to do things that we are doing anyways in a more vigorous manner, then we might very well be able to meet our goal without having to change much. Vigorously rake the leaves. Take the stairs. Go for a walk at lunch time (even around the worksite or office if need be). Do the housework with gusto. Whatever helps! Perhaps even keep a record of it for a while and set some goals for yourself.

If you can, build some of those more structured activities into your routines, too. Try something new!

It will seem like work until it seems like life. Therefore, make your life the work you need to do for your health and become as active as you can in this moment.

Good luck and keep trying!

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Tales from the Man Cave: Staying healthy is a walk in the park

Walking path beside a river.

Take advantage of the beauty around us to do the healthy thing.

Studies show that being born eventually leads to death 100% of the time in men. OK, I jest, but we men do die sooner than women on average, which is something to think on. So this post is not about the avoidance of death but rather the making of life as good as it gets until that time comes. Everything after that is in the realm of philosophy or theology!

For me, avoiding the consequences of sedentary behaviour are crucial, as studies show that being sedentary is really quite bad for your health. I have also determined that I am so important that it is imperative that I stay alive … you probably feel the same way about yourself! But our world conspires through various means to ensure that we remain sedentary, even if we work hard (generally speaking).

So what is sedentary behaviour?

  • Sitting for long periods, with little movement.
  • Watching TV, working at a computer, playing video games, or even driving.

These days, many people know about health and are striving to keep some level of fitness. When we look around us, gyms are pretty busy and many of us are outside running, jogging, and walking.

So why are so many people “unhealthy”?

It turns out that even if you are an active person (meaning you meet the guideline for adults of 150 minutes per week of physical activity), being sedentary for more than 6 hours a day may actually negate those health benefits.

We can certainly identify many of the culprits:

  • Long commutes to work (read: sitting down in car with higher blood pressure).
  • Sitting at a desk all day for work.
  • The loss of the local store so that most stores are far from the family home (read: sitting down in car with … yeah, you get it!)
  • Stress can also lead us to withdraw, which can mean sitting at home watching TV or being on the computer or our phones either with social media or Netflix, just trying to pass the time and take a little heat off ourselves.

But what if all that sitting down and screen time was actually a major cause or a contributor to stress? It’s a good question and studies agree: we don’t move enough! If you sit 6 hours or more a day, then your behaviour is sedentary. It does not take long to accumulate 6 hours of sitting, either – count how many hours you spent sitting today!

If, like me, you want to live as long as possible, there exists an easy exercise that many can engage in at low cost. Here are the benefits of this easy exercise:

  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease as well as lowering that blood pressure.
  • Reduces cholesterol and body fat and increases bone density.
  • Enhances mental well-being and increases flexibility and co-ordination.
  • Reduces the risk of cancer of the colon

Sound good? Let’s give it a shot!

What is it? Well, it’s a walk in the park!

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Tales from the Man Cave: Know the signs. Start the conversation. Reach out.

Quote from article

Talking to a person close to you about suicide may be very difficult, but it’s an important step in helping your loved one get the support he needs.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and, according to World Health Organization, some 800,000 people die by suicide every year. There are also many more who attempt suicide but are unsuccessful.

Here are some facts:

  • More people in Canada die annually from suicide than from murder.
  • In Canada, 2,700 males die by suicide each year.
  • Suicide ranked as the seventh leading cause of male death in Canada in 2007.
  • In British Columbia, suicide is one of the top three causes of mortality among men aged 15 to 44, costing $209 million in 2010.
  • In Northern Health, suicide is the second leading cause of injury-related death.
  • There were 46 deaths, 263 hospitalizations, 323 ER visits and 55 people left disabled from suicide and self-harm in 2010 in northern B.C.
  • For males in B.C. aged 15-65, the rates were 3-4 times higher than death rates for females.
  • Men tend to report depression less often but also tend to engage more lethal methods for suicide.
  • Some Aboriginal communities have higher rates of suicide.

By the numbers, male suicide is not far behind prostate cancer in terms of death rates in Canada, but it is often a hidden thing and an uncomfortable topic to discuss publicly. Many people who lose family members to suicide are reluctant to acknowledge it because of the stigma. Someone else is always left behind to bear the costs of male suicide and these are largely costs that do not show up in the statistics.

There are many reasons that men decide that they have no other road out than to kill themselves. Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression can leave an individual looking inward and feeling isolated. They can then easily believe that there is no point to life. Depression distorts thinking and makes the irrational seem plausible.

The difficulty with male depression is that the symptoms are not what we expect and are easy to overlook. Anger, irritability and feelings of being overwhelmed can make talking with someone about these feelings difficult. At the same time, if someone is becoming increasingly irritable about lots of seemingly small things, then maybe depression should spring to mind.

It is time to open the windows and let in some fresh air. We need to build the support for men to feel safe in asking for help. Talking is a great place to start and the more we talk about it, the less difficult it will become. Talking to a person close to you about suicide may be very difficult, but it’s an important step in helping your loved one get the support he needs.

If you have ever thought about hurting yourself or someone else or have been feeling overwhelmed, irritable and not yourself, talk to someone – call 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE). Getting help is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your family!

More information

Banner for World Suicide Prevention Day

Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Tales from the Man Cave: Fatigue & workplace safety

Man using chainsaw on a log.

How do you keep your workplace or work site safe? Fatigue can lead to injury so be sure to ask yourself what you can do to ensure that you, your employees, or your family members are safe at work.

At 39 years of age, John never thought that he would be among the disabled.

His Monday started off very well. He had the usual commute, half awake, sipping on his coffee mug, driving to work. It had been a late night again last night and, in fact, he had had quite a few late nights recently. The days appeared to be beginning to merge into one another. It seemed to John that he had been working 24/7 for quite a few weeks now.

The job was OK once he mastered it and he had been doing it for years. He was progressing well with the renovation jobs. Climbing ladders or going on roofs was easy for him as a tradesman and he always made sure he took the appropriate safety precautions. Nothing he couldn’t handle.

Today, he would find out, was different. Today, tired after several long days and experiencing fatigue, John would make a judgment error. He would get injured on the job. Life would change for John, suddenly and mercilessly. He would no longer be able to go out on Saturday mornings to kick the ball with his boys. He would no longer be able to continue with the job he had been doing for years. Life would change this Monday and it would take years to recover from it.

John, obviously a made up character, is actually more common than we would like to think. Labour Day, like the National Day of Mourning on April 28, provides us with an opportunity to think about how we can support safe workplaces and to remember lives lost or injured in the workplace. Northern B.C. has more than its fair share of workplace injuries and deaths due to the nature of its industry, but we have the power to change these statistics.

Like our character John, many of us are tired because of hard work and long hours that lead to fatigue. Fatigue is a serious workplace safety issue, however, and can even be a killer. It’s very important to balance hard work with enough rest and recreation. WorkSafe BC has more information about the dangers of fatigue in the workplace.

If you, your employees, or your family members are starting to feel like John in our story, ask yourself what you can change to make life a little more balanced and a little safer.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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