Healthy Living in the North

Invest in healthy aging – new resource!

Cover of healthy aging brochureOver the last month, you’ve shared some amazing stories and photos showing how you invest in your health.

Now, we’ve got a new resource to share with you! If you want information about healthy aging and tips on how to take part in activities that support healthy aging, download “Invest in Healthy Aging“.

What’s one thing that you’ll do over the next week to invest in your body, mind, and relationships?

If you’d like print copies of this brochure, contact us!

And be sure to check out all of the healthy aging stories we shared over the last month.

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog.

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Another 11 ways northern B.C. residents invest in their health!

The “Invest in Healthy Aging” contest is now in its final week and the stories of healthy living in northern B.C. just keep rolling in! Thank you for sharing your inspiring ideas!

I’m so excited to be able to share yet another set of stories from every corner of northern B.C.! If you want even more ideas for healthy aging, don’t miss the Week 1 and Week 2 summaries!

Remember that you can enter the contest once a week so keep the ideas coming! How do you invest in your body, mind, and relationships?

Father and daughter running

Clay invested in his health by running a half marathon on his birthday! “My daughter was so proud of me and wants to become a runner. About 200 metres before the finish line she jumped out and finished the race with me. The six weeks of training was worth it.”

In Chetwynd, Clay’s commitment to healthy living is inspiring his daughter – a new aspiring runner!

I’ve been into running half marathons lately. I was going to be in Vancouver the first week in February and saw that there was the Hypothermic Half on February 6, which was my birthday. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday! My daughter was so proud of me and wants to become a runner. About 200 metres before the finish line, she jumped out and finished the race with me. The six weeks of training was worth it. I beat my target time by 4 minutes. Looking forward to the next one in May!

Tammy in Quesnel has found ways to stay active around her kids’ busy sport schedules!

Being a mom of 2 teenagers, it is very hard to have a schedule of my own, between working and driving the kids to their sporting events. Like any mom with active kids, I feel like a taxi driver going to soccer, volleyball, softball, hockey practices or games. In order to keep up with the kids and get in some exercise time of my own, I will go for a short walk at the beginning of their practices or games. That way, I can still watch them (because they always look to make sure Mom is watching!)!

Remember all of the pets that promoted healthy aging in week one? Ginger is a high-energy dog who has helped Emily in Quesnel invest in her health!

My husband and I adopted our high energy dog Ginger in 2012. Ginger requires a lot of exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis. She gets excited to go for walks, hikes and snowshoeing and to just be included with the family. When Ginger is happy, we are happy. It is amazing what fresh air and a healthy dose of exercise can do for your mind and relationship!

Group photo at a circuit class

Helena takes part in a regular circuit class with friends! How do you stay active?

A circuit class in Smithers has paid dividends for Helena’s health!

Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, we go to Aileen’s Circuit Class at Lake Kathlyn School! It’s great to work out with an awesome bunch women. I was first invited to attend in November and loved it! We have a group that attends and it’s fun to work out together!

Gretchen in Quesnel has seen a local running group benefit her mind, body, and relationships!

Two years ago, I signed up for a walk/run group at a local running store (Reason2Run). I am now running 25 km trail races. Although it is not a team sport, I have met a great group of people of all ages that create the team spirit with every run. Some of the side effects of this adventure have been a healthy heart, happy spirit, fresh air to cleanse my mind […] At 53 years old, I feel better than I ever have.

For Chris in Fort St. John, healthy aging boils down to three components of walking outside!

Getting vitamin D, holding hands and experiencing the everyday.

Deanne in Quesnel is testing the waters with a few different activities! What would you suggest she try next?

I am working on trying to eat healthier by having the fridge stocked with healthy snacks and veggies and eating out less often. I struggle with getting out for exercise but am making a concerted effort to get out and experience as many different activities as I can in the hopes that something will become a passion. I have recently tried cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, which were a lot of fun.

Also in Quesnel, Beverly has come up with amazingly creative ways to stay active without much impact!

I am not a candidate for extreme anything! I have an artificial knee, complex scoliosis, and arthritis, so mild to moderate activity with no impact is more my bag. This morning for instance, I did 5 modified push-ups on the edge of my tub before I showered; jumped onto my little stepper that I have on my sundeck for 5 minutes while my puppy went to do his business in the yard; and then while I was pumping gas, I did as many step-ups onto the fuel pump island as I could while my tank filled!

Three friends with mountain in background

In her 60s, Carol and a friend discovered geocaching – a fun and healthy adventure! What new activities can you try to invest in your health?

In Atlin, a new hobby has taken Carol off of the couch and around the world!

In 2012, a friend and I were in our early 60s and decided to stop being bookworm couch potatoes. My friend discovered geocaching and we took to it immediately. Getting lost in the bush was almost as much fun as succeeding at finding geocaches! We found ourselves walking, hiking, scrambling up cliffs and under bridges, and learned to use a GPS. We just had to spread this fun to others and gave introductory workshops to participants from 11 to 81 years of age. It’s taken us to 5 countries so far!

In Prince George, life is a slice for Hilda!

I go by the saying “life is a slice.” I have a slice of everything I enjoy every day. I keep an open agenda and have a bit of several enjoyable activities each day. Beginning with morning tea/coffee and catching up on Facebook with friends, a walk, a book, time with grandchildren, healthy cooking. Every day is a pie divided into appropriate slices and savoured all day long. At the end of the day, I enjoy a good night’s sleep and then it starts all over again :)

A move from Prince George to Haida Gwaii has resulted in new opportunities for investment for Ann!

I have recently made a huge investment in my body, mind and relationships. I have retired and moved from Prince George to Haida Gwaii. Here, I am learning to listen to myself and becoming calmer. I am recharging myself by doing things I love: being outside, creating with my hands, and best of all enjoying a huge eclectic community of caring, thoughtful and compassionate people.

I want to keep sharing stories but there’s just not enough room! Thank you everyone for sharing your healthy living ideas so far! Your investments in healthy aging are creative, inspiring, and powerful! The contest runs until the end of February so enter today! You can still win one more weekly prize or the grand prize of a $150 gift certificate to the local sporting good store of your choice!

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog.

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10 more ways that northern B.C. residents invest in their health!

Woman standing on logs.

Tracy in Vanderhoof has invested in her health by eating healthier, playing hockey, and hiking. She shared a great photo from a recent hike at Mount Pope!

We are now two weeks into our “Invest in Healthy Aging” contest and your stories continue to be nothing short of inspiring! From lunchtime exercise routines that get you moving to relaxing hikes with friends that pay dividends for your mind, body, and relationships, you are making great investments in your health!

Last week, I shared a few of the stories that you had submitted. The responses have kept pouring in so here are even more stories to inspire you from across northern B.C.! Remember that you can enter the contest once a week so keep the ideas coming! How do you invest in your body, mind, and relationships?

For Natascha in Prince George, goal-setting has been key (good luck in your 5 km run, Natascha!)!

Six months ago, motivation hit me. I don’t know what exactly inspired me, but I knew I wanted to improve my physical health. I signed up as a member at the YMCA and started my journey to better health. I set personal goals and made a commitment to do what it takes to have what I want. What do I want? I want a healthy body, a focused mind, and I want to have the ability to run multiple kilometres – starting with 5 km in June! I feel amazing! Better is always possible, everyday is closer to my goal!

In Dawson Creek, Korena has taken advantage of a local program to try new healthy living activities!

This month, I signed up for the ‘Everybody Move Dawson Creek’ program and have been going to the various gyms and aquatic centres in Dawson Creek to learn what each facility has to offer. I am thoroughly enjoying the program as it allows me to try out a variety of activities that I normally wouldn’t try out for free. A super program which is promoting healthy living and incentives to be active.

Melanie from Saik’uz took a chance on an old favourite activity and decided to “just do it”!

I used to be an avid skier. It has been years since I skied (the last full day was when I was pregnant with my 13 year old son!). This past weekend, I was fortunate to chaperone our high school kids to the ski and snowboard zones in Jasper. Since I was on the hill, I decided to ‘just do it’, and went skiing. It’s hard to have been able to do something then not be able to perform – but you have to start somewhere and I am glad I did!

Apps and technology can be great tools for healthy aging! For Cailey in Prince George, an app has helped her invest in a healthy mind!

Sometimes day-to-day life gets so busy! To invest in my mind, I have downloaded a meditation app on my phone. This app allows me to practice 10 minutes of meditation to relax me and continue my day with a clear mind!

Woman on cross-country ski trail

Susan in Houston takes advantage of the outdoors to invest in her health!

The outdoors have supported Susan’s healthy aging investments in Houston!

Living in such a beautiful area with great recreational opportunities means the world to me. On any given day, I can snowshoe out my back door, drive ten minutes to beautifully groomed cross country ski trails, or just walk a few metres to join a network of town walking trails. There’s never a good reason to stay inside.

Delilah in Prince Rupert has found a nice balance and healthy activities to support healthy aging!

I engage in walking to work, drinking lots of water, ongoing learning to keep my mind active, help others where I can, relax myself with reading and keeping in touch with family members. I find a nice balance between work and time off. I also ride my bike and enjoy fresh air by walking outdoors as much as I can. Laughter is important to me and I try to read or watch funny things. I nap when I am tired and that makes a big difference in how I cope.

Joanna in Prince George has been counting her steps and seeing a connection between physical and mental well-being!

I’ve been investing in my health by making time for physical activity every day – ensuring I get my 10,000 steps on my Fitbit and going for a 5-8 km walk every evening. Not only does it help improve my physical health, but also my emotional well-being – endorphins are a powerful force for decreasing stress and improving mood!

Leanne in Terrace has chosen to be very active and wonders what else is in store!

Well into my 50s, I still play floor hockey and dragon boat in the spring/summer (really good as you climb up those years!). My daughter is doing a thirty minute exercise challenge with her peers at the school she works at. This will go on until April [and] I have decided to join her for encouragement and for my fitness. Curling on Wednesdays as well. Zumba … what else is in store?!

For Kim in Burns Lake, family is a big part of investing in health!

I enjoy the outdoors when I can – this week went ice fishing with the family. I do as much home cooking as I can for myself and the family.

Grandchildren and some creative improvisation created a fun and active time for Laurel in Swan Lake!

The grandchildren and Teddy and I wanted to go outside sliding but there wasn’t really enough snow for a long run this year so we had to improvise. We dug out the two children’s kayaks that we have and found a small patch of snow across the road that was deep enough to travel on. We had tried the driveway but I had to have a leash so they would stop before hitting gravel and destroying the bottom of the kayak! That meant Grandma had to run ahead of the kayak to start, then stop and hold the rope!

This list of great stories and insights could definitely go on! Thank you to everyone who shared their healthy living ideas so far! The contest runs until the end of February so enter today! You could win great weekly prizes or the grand prize of a $150 gift certificate to the local sporting good store of your choice!

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog.

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It’s your time to shine!

This month, we want to know how you are preparing for the future by investing in your health! Tell us (or show us) what you do to invest in your body, your mind, and your relationships for your chance to win great weekly prizes and a $150 grand prize! To inspire you, we’ll be featuring regular healthy aging content on the Northern Health Matters blog all month long!


As I watch my 69 year old mom come racing down the local sledding hill with my kids in tow, I am filled with pride and happiness. My children have the opportunity to spend time with their “Nana” in a fun and meaningful way because she is healthy and fit. I could just say that my mom has “good genetics” or “got lucky” but the truth is, my mom has taken care of herself over the years and now our whole family is enjoying the benefits.

But what does it mean to take care of ourselves as we age, and how can we put the messages we are hearing into action? It simply means that you take control over your physical health and start making choices that will improve your quality of life as you age.

Pie chart with three investment categories

The time to invest in your health is now! What are you doing to invest in your body, mind, and relationships?

If you’re wondering how to start investing in your physical health, here are some suggestions for getting started on the right foot:

Slow & steady wins the race!

  • Start with small amounts of activity and slowly build on your success.
  • Challenge a friend or family member to get active with you.
  • Never give up! Setbacks happen but don’t let them stop you in your tracks.

A healthy outside starts from the inside!

  • Get energized for your activities by enjoying a variety of foods. Focus on whole grains, fruits & vegetables, lean meats and lower fat dairy products.
  • Get organized. Planning meals in advance will help you make healthy choices and keep you focused at the grocery store.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day can help you feel revitalized!

Now is the time to take advantage of northern living!

  • Snowshoe in the winter – start slow so you don’t fall in the snow!
  • Walk in the spring – take a friend … there is strength in numbers!
  • Try berry picking in the summer – wear a hat & bring a water bottle!
  • Go for a bike ride in the fall – don’t forget to protect your head!

As we enter a new year full of opportunity and hope, I challenge you to put the excuses aside and make a commitment to improving your physical health. It is never too late to get started and become the person you always imagined you could be! Tell us how you are investing in your health for your chance to win great prizes!

Invest in yourself … because you can’t afford not to!

Jaime Bauman

About Jaime Bauman

Jaime graduated from the UNBC Nursing Program in 2003 and she is currently working as a team lead for Preventive Public Health Nursing in Prince George. Jaime is passionate about health promotion and working with children & families in the early years. Jaime embraces all that northern living has to offer with her husband, two daughters and their Rhodesian Ridgeback, Jake. In her spare time, Jaime enjoys a variety of outdoor activities with her family including gardening, hiking and cross-country skiing.

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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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Mikaila’s Story – Gear Up for Winter

Mikaila was only 13 years old when a family ski trip to Nelson, BC took a turn for the worse. She recalled the weather conditions at the mountain being very windy and icy that day. She was also not very familiar with her surroundings as it was her first time at this particular location.

snowboarder on a hill

“…the decisions you make about your safety can prevent serious outcomes.”

The last thing Mikaila remembered was waiting in line for the chairlift with her sister, from that moment on her memory was wiped. She was told by her sister that it was going to be their last run of the day, and then the crash happened. Mikaila had lost control. She was headed off the trail weaving quickly through the trees. She believes she most likely hit a patch of ice and was trying to slow down. She turned to carve but crashed right into a tree. Unfortunately, Mikaila was not wearing a helmet.

After the impact from the crash and taking a blow to the head, she was unresponsive and in a coma. Once help had arrived and she was stabilized, Mikaila was flown by an emergency helicopter to BC’s Children Hospital in Vancouver. The doctors found a significant amount of intracranial bleeding and debated whether surgery would be necessary or if the bleeding would resolve itself. Mikaila remained on a respirator for 2 and ½ days. Her total hospital stay was 6 days; 3 days in the intensive care unit and few on the ward with her family at her side. The doctor believed that a helmet would have deflected the impact of the crash and protected her brain.

Mikaila shared that the first thing she remembered was the breathing tube being pulled from her throat accompanied by a couple flashes of her family nearby. Her recovery continued at home with a long stretch of time spent on bed rest. Although she is an active individual, involved in many sports, Mikaila was unable to get back into all of her activities for some time following the crash. When she was allowed to play soccer again she was advised not to head the ball and had to be very cautious. Mikaila was very fortunate but the impact on herself and family has had lasting effects.

Mikaila received a helmet that following Christmas as a gift and encourages everyone to wear one as well. She stated, “To this day I have never been able to remember the crash or even the recovery in the hospital, so it almost feels like it didn’t happen to me. I still go snowboarding as often as I can and I’m committed to wearing my helmet on every run. If I forget, my mom is sure there to remind me of the dangers and how lucky I am to be here today!”

What is the take-home message to Mikaila’s story? Injuries happen in predictable patterns and the decisions you make about your safety can prevent serious outcomes. Wearing a helmet can make a difference in reducing the risk of a head injury while keeping you active and having fun on the hill with your family and friends, doing what you love. So next time you hit the slopes, take a minute to remember Mikaila’s story and your safety. Gear up for winter!


You can win a new winter sport helmet by entering your favourite place to ‘gear up’ on northern BC – check out our Facebook page (by 2pm, Thursday, Jan. 28) for more details!


 

Alandra Kirschner

About Alandra Kirschner

Originally from Abbotsford, Alandra moved to northern B.C. in 2012 to pursue schooling to become a Registered Nurse. A 4th year UNBC student (BS, Nursing), Alandra is passionate about her field, especially acute care and mental health/addictions. In her free time, you’ll find her practicing yoga, watching movies, camping, and travelling.

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Drop and give me twenty!

Army patch

The shoulder patch of the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. Reg was a part of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), which is an armoured regiment in the brigade. There, he learned a lot about motivation and physical activity!

The New Year is upon us and no doubt many of us are setting goals to become more physically active. If you’re one of those people, I have a question for you: How motivated are you?

If you don’t feel motivated, have you thought about joining the army? I can tell you from experience that it works! But why does it work so well?

One is that the army ensured that I got regular physical exercise. No matter what the weather, there was always the physical training that I took part in, no exceptions, no complaints allowed.

Second, the army has a set of specific goals and objectives that I was expected to meet. It has very specific, measurable goals, like being able to run a kilometer within a certain amount of time. Not to mention pushups!

Soldiers marching

Footage from Reg’s graduation parade.

And then there was the built-in motivator, otherwise known as the Master Corporal (the Canadian version of the Drill Sargent in basic training). He was the guy barking at me as I moaned and groaned my way through the obstacle course. Master Corporals weren’t always nice in their “motivational methods,” but you know what, for me, it worked. I ran that kilometer and did those pushups. I made it through the obstacle course.

Then again, it’s not necessary to join the army if you’re looking to get more physically active. But in reflecting on my own time, I think that some of the principles are the same and definitely taught me a lot. You need to make time for physical activity and do it. You need to set SMART goals and strive to reach them. You need to find your motivation.

I often see the scale or body measurements used as motivators. While it’s important to measure your progress towards your goals in other ways (like how many minutes of activity you did today), don’t get hung up on those numbers. Health is measured in more ways than pounds or inches. For some, buying something special upon reaching a milestone can be a motivator. However, that might not work in the end and it’s possible that your motivation may falter between milestones.

So, what are you to do?

Motivation needs to come from within if it’s going to last. Here are some suggestions for building up your motivation:

  • Make sure that you find ways to be active that you enjoy. Find activities that keep you coming back.
  • Focus on the experience. Enjoy the surroundings if you’re outside. Enjoy the camaraderie of team sports. Enjoy the solitude if you’re on your own.
  • Learn to recognize and appreciate the health benefits of being active. Enjoy your improved mood and increased energy.
  • Engage in physical activity as a way to reward yourself. A nice walk down a forest trail is a great way to relax after a long day at the office.
  • Keep challenging yourself. Walk an extra ten minutes or lift that extra ten pounds.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate your successes.
Medal

A medal from Reg’s time peacekeeping in Cyprus. What did his time in the army teach him about physical activity and setting SMART goals?

It can also help to let people know about your goals and ask them to help you stay on track. If your motivation slips a little, they’ll let you know (sort of like the Master Corporal did for me!).

I have to admit, writing this blog rekindled some great memories from the old army days.

Q: Is having a Master Corporal shouting in my ear one of them?

A: No.

Q: Would I push harder if he was standing there “motivating me?”

A: You bet I would.

As much as I enjoy the memories and the lessons, I’m not re-enlisting in the army for the motivation – not even for the food or the cool uniforms! But I’ll definitely use the things I learned about motivation to stay physically active in 2016!

The only person responsible for motivating you to be physically active is you.

Unless you join the army, and they take that responsibility very seriously, even when you don’t.

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator 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. 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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Setting SMART goals

This article was written with the support of Mandy Levesque and Marianne Bloudoff. Visit our contributors page for more information about all of our blog authors.


 

With shorter days and cooler temperatures upon us, many will consider spending more time inside. However, it’s important to keep in mind that our bodies need to keep moving to stay healthy!

We now have more information about how spending the majority of our time sitting is not good for our health. We know that decreased physical activity raises our risk for a number of chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and can also affect our mental health.

This time of year provides us with a good opportunity to consider physical activity levels, and these tips will help steer you in the right direction:

Set goals for yourself and your family to meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines.

Adults need 150 minutes of activity per week. Break that down and it’s just over 20 minutes per day, which should be achievable for most people.

If you’re just starting out, start slow. You can even break the guideline down to bouts of 10 minutes at a time, gradually working your way up to meet the recommendations. The biggest goal for all of us is to move more and sit less every day!

These goals apply to children as well. To achieve health benefits, kids need 60 minutes of activity per day. Make physical activity a priority as a family and reduce sitting and screen time for everyone!

Table defining the SMART goal acronym and providing a sample active living goal.

SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. What are your SMART goals for 2016?

Set SMART goals.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Grab a fitness buddy or activity partner.

Finding someone with whom to share our physical activity goals is one of the best motivators to keep us invested in staying active. Find someone who will go walking or try a new activity with you and make a plan! You’ll get to socialize with your friends or family and it won’t even seem like exercise! This goes for kids, too!

Wear proper footwear.

Having the right footwear for activity will ensure comfort and the ability to continue with the activity of choice. If you’re outside, make sure to have the appropriate footwear with good grip. You can also purchase additional grips for your shoes! Many communities offer indoor walking programs during the winter as well! Walking is one of the single most beneficial things for our health as almost anyone can do it and it’s free!

This winter, I would encourage you to take these tips, find an activity you enjoy, and have a very happy end to 2015 and start to 2016!

Jonathon Dyck

About Jonathon Dyck

Jonathon is a communications officer at Northern Health. Originally from Airdrie, Alberta, Jonathon has a broadcasting diploma from Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta, and a BA with a major in communications from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. Jonathon enjoys golf, hockey, curling, hiking, biking, and canoeing. He is also an avid sports fan and attends as many sporting events as humanly possible, including hockey, soccer, baseball, football, rugby, basketball, and lacrosse.

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Go with the flow!

Boy with toy bow and arrow

When we were young, imaginative play could transport us to faraway lands! When’s the last time your leisure activities have had that effect on you?

In the past, I’ve written about tobacco reduction and tobacco free sports. However, this time I’m going back to my old recreation therapist days to talk about “going with the flow.”

Let me start by telling you a little story:

When I was a young boy, my friends and I had great imaginations. We spent hours in the woods, having grand adventures! Sticks became swords, and danger lurked behind every tree. Dragons and thieves ran amok, but they were no match for us, the brave knights of the realm.

Back then, we went wherever our minds would take us. The outside world faded away as our imaginary world took over. We became so involved in our games that we would be oblivious to people around us, especially adults who had no place in our kingdoms.

Often, we would forget the time and come home late for dinner, much to the dismay of our mothers. Not that it really bothered us that much. After all, great knights on an epic quest shouldn’t have to stop having fun because of a little thing called dinner!

So what do knights, dragons, and kingdoms have to do with leisure? To an adult, probably not much, unless you’re into Dungeons & Dragons. However, what’s important is the idea that leisure activities you take part in should enable you to become totally absorbed in the experience.

Now, about going with the flow.

Meaningful leisure experiences can result your mind entering what has be described as a state of “flow.” The concept of flow was developed by a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He described it as a rare state of consciousness where you pay complete attention to what you’re doing and forget about everything else.

This state of flow is characterized by a few things, such as:

  • Losing complete track of time.
  • Becoming so involved in what we’re doing that the outside world fades away.
  • Experiencing enough of a challenge to keep us completely involved and interested in the activity.

Getting into a state of flow can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Flow can help deal with the stressors that we all experience on a daily basis. It takes us to a place where you can just be in the moment. Entering a state of flow silences the noise of the outside world.

Sometimes, getting into a state of flow takes a bit of effort. However, it can be helpful to look at your past. Can you remember a time when you experienced the sensation of flow?

  • What were you doing?
  • How did you feel?
  • Did the experience have a positive effect on your emotional state?
  • Is this something you could do now?
  • Is there another activity that could result in the same sensation?

I wanted to talk about the idea of flow because this time of year can be very stressful. Christmas activities fill our calendars and presents need to be bought. Every now and then, we feel just as busy and tired as Santa’s elves. If there’s a time where we could use a bit of flow now and then, this can be it!

Just remember, there are, of course, times when you need to be paying attention to what is happening around you.

However, in those moments where you can get into a state of flow, go with it!

Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play -Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator 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. 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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Children follow by example – how are you leading?

Skaters on an outdoor ice surface

Spending more time outdoors and being active every day is a great way to beat the “winter blues.” Take your family for a skate or walk to a local event – your kids will follow your healthy example!

Although slower to start this year, winter is upon us. Days are shorter, darker, and colder and for some of us the “winter blues” might be settling in. Feelings of low energy, tiredness, and a lack of motivation can be felt by both adults and children during these winter months. The challenge for us all is to resist going into hibernation mode and to instead find ways to beat the “blues.” Even though it might seem easier and warmer to stay cooped up indoors, it is not necessarily better for our bodies to do this.

Helping children enjoy all that winter has to offer will have positive benefits for adults and children alike. Here are some suggestions that might help you and your children to stay energized and happy during this winter season. Remember, children follow by example!

  • Plan to be active every day. Exercise is not only good for your physical health, it also helps to improve your mood.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Your mood and energy levels can be affected by what and when you eat. Eating healthy foods will give your body the nutrients needed to help stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.
  • Spend more time outdoors. Lack of sunlight can affect your mood. Make a plan to spend a little more time outdoors, particularly around midday to take advantage of sunlight or daylight. Bundle up to stay warm and to avoid frostbite.
  • Sleep. Try to keep bedtime and waking time consistent as this will help you to have more energy. Oversleeping can actually make you more tired.
  • Be proactive. Make a plan together with your family and friends to help each other to stay active and engaged during winter.

So I challenge you today to start making your plan to stay active indoors and outdoors this winter. Try something new to beat the “winter blues” and make wintertime fun!

What are you doing today?


This article was originally published in A Healthier You magazine. The newest issue of our healthy living magazine is now available online!

 

Karen Wonders

About Karen Wonders

Karen was born and raised in Ottawa and over the last 30 years has lived in various cities and communities in Alberta and B.C. She has a nursing degree from the University of Victoria and currently lives and works in Prince George as a Public Health Nursing Program Manager. Karen is a strong advocate for the health of children and youth with her primary focus being in the area of "healthy schools". She is a director on the board of the Directorate of Agencies for School Health, which adds great value and is complementary to her. In her spare time, Karen enjoys travelling, spending time with her family and friends, and taking long walks with her dog Theodore.

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