Healthy Living in the North

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.


May is National Hypertension Month – how’s your blood pressure?

Measuring blood pressure

High blood pressure is both preventable and treatable! Early detection is key.

Do you remember when your blood pressure was last checked? I checked my own blood pressure this morning! I’ve made it part of my routine.  High blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer and I don’t want it sneaking up on me.

It’s called the silent killer because many people don’t know that their blood pressure is high. They may not have any symptoms of the problem.  Early detection is key to preventing damage to your body that could cause early death.

You can easily find out what your blood pressure is! You probably know of places in your community where you can check your blood pressure: many pharmacies have a blood pressure testing centre or you can visit your health care provider. You can also purchase your own blood pressure monitor and check it at home. I have several people in my family who have high blood pressure and they take medication to lower their blood pressure.

Blood pressure chart

The range of normal and abnormal blood pressure. Click the table to visit our hypertension fact sheet for more details.

There are other things that you can do to lower your blood pressure:

  • Reduce salt intake; avoid processed foods
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Do not use tobacco products
  • Increase physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Want some more tips about measuring blood pressure and understanding the results? Check out my hypertension fact sheet! Don’t let hypertension sneak up on you!

And for more information visit:


Nancy Viney

About Nancy Viney

Nancy is a registered nurse working in Northern Health’s population health team. She often imagines a day when no one in northern British Columbia suffers from the harmful effects of tobacco. In her time off, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her two little grandchildren! Nancy also enjoys quilting, knitting, crocheting and many other home spun crafts.


Men’s health event and screening in McBride was a huge success!

McBride Pioneer Days

The NH team promoting men’s health. L-R: Brandon Grant, Mike Benusic, Sheila Anderson, Roxanne Coates and Susanna Gasser.

On June 17th, I was able to participate in a great event held during the McBride Pioneer Days Pancake Breakfast at the Elk’s Hall. I was there to promote men’s health, along with other Northern Health staff who conducted blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol checks for men who came in for breakfast. We also had an information booth with a variety of health resources for residents.

As with most of our events across the region, the men we saw really stepped up and took on the challenge to learn more about their health, with over 30 participants lining up to get checked. As I spoke with some of the folks at the Elk’s Hall, it reminded me of the importance of the work we are doing to raise the spotlight on men’s health. The men and women who came by shared stories about their own health issues and real-life examples that have showed them how important it is to reach men at all stages of life, but especially when they’re young.

The best part about my job is visiting all the communities in our vast region, speaking with people about what good health means to them, and what we can do as a community and health authority to raise awareness about health issues of men living in the north. The work continues, but with the help of our committed Northern Health staff and our community partners, we can make men’s health better for all that call the north home. Thanks to the great folks that helped make this event possible!

Brandon Grant

About Brandon Grant

As the NH men’s health coordinator, Brandon Grant travels across the Northern Health region speaking with community members about the health issues men face and what we can do to improve men’s health. He has worked with a variety of community-based organizations, including the Nawican Friendship Centre and the Northern Family Health Society, and holds two master’s degrees, one in social work and one in public administration. To stay active, Brandon enjoys playing golf and tennis, and whenever possible, visits tropical destinations to go snorkeling. (Brandon no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)