Healthy Living in the North

Raise Children’s Grade, Bike to Work This Week!

A man rides his bike to work.

Embed activity into your day by biking to work!

You may have read about, or heard of, the recently published report which graded children around the world on their health in regards to physical activity.

Canadian children scored a D-.

But, you may be thinking, Canadians are doers! The more we can cross off the list, in the shortest amount of time, the better. This may sound like a recipe for energetic activity, but what it’s actually resulted in is a “culture of convenience.” Time is short, but my list is not.

Most of us drive everywhere to get everything on our list completed, even if being physically active happens to be on that list. We take a car, a truck, or a bus, so we can tweet and Facebook each other while we’re getting to where we need to go. Worse yet, this behaviour, this “culture of convenience,” is rubbing off on the children in our community, and we haven’t even added video games to the mix.

Don’t have kids? Well, imagine the average day for many Canadians. You wake up, go through your normal morning routine, then you get in a vehicle. You sit on your way to work; when you get there, you may be sitting for your entire work day before sitting in your car the whole way home again. Combine that with sitting for dinner, throw in a bit of evening television (which you’re sitting for) and voila! A sedentary lifestyle is born. It may feel busy, but that “busyness” isn’t physical.

Now consider this. Those who live a sedentary lifestyle are more likely to develop chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease in their lives. On top of that, sitting for more than six hours a day can reduce your lifespan by as much as five years.

Studies show that being active every day is needed for health benefits. How often do you think this happens when it is just another item on a list?  It must be a regular part of our daily lives; it’s got to be normal.

So, on that note, take the steps to move more in your daily routine. The time spent on your way to and from work is a great time to introduce some physical activity to your day, and when better to start than on May 26th with Bike to Work Week! Across all of B.C., people will ditch their car keys in favour of bike helmets, improving their lifestyle in the process. Getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day can move you a long way towards reducing the risk of chronic disease and you’ll become a positive role model for the children in our community.

Let’s shoot for an A the next time our kids’ physical activity is graded in Canada!


Doug Quibell

About Doug Quibell

Doug Quibell is the northwest manager of public health protection, and the lead on Northern Health’s partnering for healthy communities approach. He first joined Northern Health in 1995. After stints in the Middle East and in Ontario, he and his family recently returned to the mountains and ocean they call home in Terrace. He stays active trying to get his daughter excited about skiing Shames Mountain and sailing off of Prince Rupert.


Biking to work between islands

Biking to work

Heather, on the ferry from Sandspit, during her daily bike ride to work.

When I was asked to contribute to the NH blog, I actually accepted the invitation before I knew what I was going to write. Encouraging health in the workplace? How can we add health in the workplace? How is  ‘health’ defined by each of us? Healthy eating? Exercise? How do I incorporate healthy in my workday?

Well, I work in Queen Charlotte City but live in Sandspit. That means my commute consists of 12km to the ferry terminal, a 30-minute ferry ride and another 5km to the hospital in Queen Charlotte. I could drive or bike. I made the choice to bike to work for two reasons. First, it would save me cash by walking onto the ferry versus driving and secondly, I could add some movement into my day before and after each work day.

Here’s a typical day, riding my bike to work:

I reach for my alarm, turn it off, roll over and open my eyes. September is  not quite as bright in the morning as in July, but there’s still light streaming into my bedroom from the rising sun. I put my biking outfit on, make some coffee, grab my pre-made lunch  and pack my backpack. I make my favorite breakfast smoothie and toss it too into my pack. It’s 7:15 am. I walk to the end of my driveway with my ride. My morning commute has started. I start to peddle the 12km. The road is quiet and to my right for 12km is the ocean. The water is Caribbean blue, calm and the beach is empty and peaceful. Throughout the summer I was fortunate to witness various berries changing colours, the day-old fawns playing, whales around Onward Point and river otters crossing the road before the other morning traffic. On the mighty Kwuna, I enjoy my coffee and morning chat with friends all while watching seagulls and porpoises pass by. The ferry docks at the Skidegate Terminal and I continue my ride into Queen Charlotte with sunshine warming my back and highlighting Sleeping Beauty Mountain in front of me. When I reach my destination I feel energized and happy to be there. I get to do the reverse at the end of the day.

Biking to work is just one way that I incorporate ‘health’ into my workday. How do you?

Heather Brule

About Heather Brule

Heather lives, works and plays on Haida Gwaii. She has worked for Northern Health since 2012 in the Rehabilitation department as a therapy aide. At work, she assists the physical therapist as well as works with the long-term care residents to provide various forms of recreation. She's active in the community and enjoys teaching various fitness classes over the past few years. In her spare time she can be found running, hiking, biking, crafting, reading, diving and enjoying the ocean via fishing, surfing and paddle boarding. (Heather no longer works with Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)