Healthy Living in the North

Announcing the My Healthy Workplace Challenge

Did you know that Canadian workers average 10.5 hours a day between work and commuting? Work consumes most of our waking time during our productive years and yet, all too often, we allow it to detract from our quality of life and – ultimately – our health. Think of this example:

“I enjoy the work that I do, but now I have some poor health habits. In the moment, I think that these habits make my work easier, but when did my desk job become so exhausting?! I sit at my desk all morning. Then, I eat lunch at my desk, rarely talking to my coworkers about anything more than work. Sometimes, I buy my lunch because I didn’t have the time to pack one. Then, I stay a few minutes late every day for ‘just those last few things.’ By the end of the day, I can’t wait to hit the couch; I rarely have any energy left to play with my kids or do things that I know I will enjoy.”

While this is sometimes the norm, there are examples of workplaces that support good employee health because healthy workplaces are good for employees and employers. Attention to workplace health improves employee morale and productivity.

My Healthy Workplace: Taking Care of Business

Northern Health is taking note. One of our strategic pillars is to “focus on our people.” As an organization in the health sector, we want to promote workplace health in our own organization and in the other workplaces in northern communities. To raise awareness and kick things off, Northern Health and its partners are challenging you to Take Care of Business.

We know that social support is a major part of a healthy workplace. So, to start, we need you to form a team. Beginning in September, you and your team will be presented with three workplace health challenges. The challenges will ask you to consider your work day and how it affects your health, one way or the other.

I can’t tell you the challenges, but I can tell you this is not a weight loss competition. We are interested in a proactive and positive approach to the health and well-being of people in the workforce. No bathroom scales. No tape measures.

Our blog posts will support you and your team and we will link you to great resources, but the creativity and the work will come from you. We will offer some prizes as incentives for getting started, but – of course – the ultimate Grand Prize will be a healthier, more satisfying work environment day after day.

Prizes will include supports for being healthy in the workplace, including a workplace wellness package valued at $1,000 and three runner-up prizes valued at $500 each. We want this to be challenging and fun. And, we want you to think about what can be done to improve workplace health – today and in the future.

Now, get together with your colleagues, form a team, and visit our My Healthy Workplace Challenge page to get started!

Dr. David Bowering

About Dr. David Bowering

Dr. David Bowering is Northern Health’s Chief Medical Officer. In November 2010, he released the report “Where are the Men? Chief Medical Health Officer’s report on the Wellbeing of Men and Boys in Northern BC” and has been heavily involved with the men’s health program since then. To stay active, Dr. Bowering walks or bikes to work, walks his dog daily, boycotts elevators, hikes or cross-country skis most weekends and plays with his grandchildren.

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Vehicular Disease: the new VD

Vehicular Disease: the new 'VD'

Vehicular Disease: the new ‘VD’

In 1854 Dr. John Snow tracked the source of the London Cholera outbreak termed “Black Death” to the Broad Street pump. He removed the handle, saving thousands of lives. Throughout the 1800s, similar advances gave rise to the system of public health we see in our communities today.  Although communicable diseases remain a focus of our work, we’ve recently seen other serious risk factors rise up as significant risks in our communities.

Motor vehicle crashes have become an increasingly serious modern plague in northern B.C. At rates nearing twice that of the B.C. average, they’ve become the leading cause of death and injury in people aged 15 – 50.

We estimate the financial costs of this carnage to be well over $500 million annually, but the impact on our families is far more severe.  With more than 400 deaths, and 20,000 serious injuries a year in B.C. alone, there are few other “killers” in our communities that take such a toll.

Fortunately, Northern Health and a wide range of our community partners are taking notice, and together, beginning the process of working towards reducing the number of road crashes. Northern Health has been leading a program called RoadHealth that includes a coalition of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Insurance Corporation of BC, Forest Safety Council, and WorkSafe BC, all with the common vision of improving safety for people who live and drive on northern roads every day.

RoadHealth has been associated with a 50 per cent reduction in the number of men killed on northern roads over the past seven years with the greatest gains made with those who make their living driving (logging trucks, ambulance, fuel trucks, transports). That’s a lot of men who are home safe tonight with their families who might not have been otherwise.

But there is so much more we can do.  We know that road crash deaths and injuries are, in theory, 100 per cent preventable.

First, let’s throw out the term ‘accident.’ This is a preventable vehicular disease; in fact, let’s call them the new ‘VD.’

Next, if you are not in your vehicle, your chances of catching VD are greatly reduced. Drive less by walking, cycling or using alternate transport more. Less traffic would also mean less exhaust, less stress, and more physical activity. Every one of us is susceptible to vehicular disease, and every one of us can contribute to its prevention. If we have to drive, we can all slow down and be safer drivers.

There are countless more ideas around developing a culture of safe driving. What if the entire system were remodeled to support the prevention of vehicular disease? For example, more walking or biking paths and less parking. What if our car insurance were linked to kilometers driven? If it’s parked back home in the driveway, there’s no risk, for us, or for our insurers.

We all have friends or family members who have been devastated by this disease. It’s time we, as a society, worked together on prevention. Let’s envision the virtual elimination of this waste of human potential, and come together to make it a reality.

Dr. David Bowering

About Dr. David Bowering

Dr. David Bowering is Northern Health’s Chief Medical Officer. In November 2010, he released the report “Where are the Men? Chief Medical Health Officer’s report on the Wellbeing of Men and Boys in Northern BC” and has been heavily involved with the men’s health program since then. To stay active, Dr. Bowering walks or bikes to work, walks his dog daily, boycotts elevators, hikes or cross-country skis most weekends and plays with his grandchildren.

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Happy MOvember from Dr. Bowering

MANual

Check out our new MANual – a men’s health survival guide!! Visit men.northernhealth.ca to see it today!

It’s that time of year again, when men grow the Mo to support awareness of men’s health and to help raise money for prostate cancer research. What started out as a grassroots movement has now become one of the most iconic health promotion campaigns in the world. Raising awareness about prostate cancer and engaging men in their own health is incredibly important – and Northern Health is playing its part. Northern Health’s men’s health program has been working with our community partners over the last 16 months to raise awareness about all men’s health issues by:

  • Presenting to over 70 community groups on men’s health across the region.
  • Providing health screenings to over 800 northerners across our region for blood pressure, sugars, and cholesterol.
  • Developing promotional materials to reach men, including our men’s health website, radio and social media campaigns.

And most recently, we have developed a men’s health MANual, which provides health information for men of all ages about nutrition, active living, and health screenings at the various life stages. It’s a man maintenance guide for health – take a look and share it with the men in your family today!

Men in northern B.C. aren’t living as long as men in other parts of the province. MOvember reminds us that we need to work as a region-wide community to get men to live the best quality of life they can for themselves and their family. I want to invite all of you to check out the MANual and let us know what you think. ALso, stay tuned over the next couple days when we’ll be starting our Month of MAN promotion campaign at men.northernhealth.ca – we’ll have weekly contests and quizzes over the next month and you could win some great prizes!

Happy Mo growin’! Share your story with us! Are you growing a Mo?

Dr. David Bowering

About Dr. David Bowering

Dr. David Bowering is Northern Health’s Chief Medical Officer. In November 2010, he released the report “Where are the Men? Chief Medical Health Officer’s report on the Wellbeing of Men and Boys in Northern BC” and has been heavily involved with the men’s health program since then. To stay active, Dr. Bowering walks or bikes to work, walks his dog daily, boycotts elevators, hikes or cross-country skis most weekends and plays with his grandchildren.

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