Healthy Living in the North

6 ways northern B.C. residents invest in health!

Woman walking dog

We asked you how you invest in healthy aging and, boy, did you tell us! From walking to swimming and meditation apps to time with friends, your ideas and stories were inspiring!

We are now one week into our “Invest in Healthy Aging” contest and the response has been nothing short of inspiring! We asked you how you invest in your health and, boy, did you tell us!

Here are just a few of the stories we’ve received so far! I’ll be sure to share even more of your stories, tips, and inspiring ideas next week! 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 Vince in Prince Rupert, challenging others is part of the fun!

We go out and walk 5 km with our dogs whenever the weather permits. We try to walk as long as we can and always take pictures to share and inspire others to get out and walk. I use Fitbit to track our steps and use it to challenge our friends.

Velvet in Dawson Creek is having a fun retirement filled with healthy living activities!

This is my year! Swimming, walking, joined a gym. Had some dental work done, had physio for my neck, getting spa treatments. Got my eyes checked and had an appointment with the doctor for a physical. I’m also involved with the Palliative Society as a volunteer. I’m eating better and trying to teach my husband about meals and activities … next is ice skating. Also involved with the Legion, art gallery, and Better at Home Program. I am having a fun retirement!!

For Anita in Prince George, family and physical activity come together for a great healthy living investment!

How I invested this week in my body & mind was by attending three intense strength building classes after work that included kettlebells, sandbags, and core training. I also invested in my relationships by working out at these classes alongside my sister & daughter. They both bring encouragement & strength to commit to this time on a weekly basis.

Diane in Chetwynd wishes she had started the investment earlier, but is enjoying her activity now!

I have been going to the gym for a month now and enjoying it! Should of done this 30 years ago.

Dogs made a couple of appearances in your healthy aging investment portfolios! For Pat in Hixon, her German shepherd makes for a healthy living companion!

My husband Larry and I are making an effort to walk to the Hixon post office to get our mail at least 3 times a week. We take our German shepherd dog, Tikka, who loves the walk. We are concerned about keeping her healthy, also!

Marlee in Terrace shared some important reminders about focusing and investing in relationships!

I find that being surrounded by family, friends, and physically exercising not only your mind in speech and conversation, but freeing your body in physical exercise with those important to you can help to decrease stress and keep your body and mind healthy. Whether it’s a coffee date or a walk downtown, disassociating yourself from work and allowing yourself to focus on individual relationships important to you will keep you healthy and happy!

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. (Vince no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)


Getting your feet back on a natural path

Agnes picking berries

Agnes picking berries and enjoying nature near Prince George.

How often do you get back to nature? Returning to nature has therapeutic benefits for our health. Research shows access to nature is important to the healthy development of children and very important to the mental and physical health of adults. In many larger communities, people have difficulty finding places to enjoy time with nature, or perhaps they can’t afford the travel or the time to get away.

In northern B.C., we do have some advantages in this regard. Many of our communities are surrounded by nature’s majesty and accessing places to enjoy time in a natural environment is relatively easy. Even in our larger centres, getting to the river’s edge is often only a matter of a quick walk.

Aboriginal communities have many lessons to share about enjoying nature in ways that improve our health and well-being. Looking to the land as a guide and as a provider is still the backbone of Aboriginal culture. Many of our friends and colleagues who are of Aboriginal ancestry return to the land regularly. They also do this particularly in the late summer and early fall for berry picking, and for hunting and fishing. These expeditions don’t just feed the family of the hunter or gatherer, they feed many in the community, as hunters will present parts of the hunt or of the catch to the Elders and other families in their communities.

A basket of berries.

Have you ever tried gathering berries near your community?

Berry picking is a bit back-breaking but really worth it. The skills to work with foods we have picked directly from the earth are dying out but many people, both Aboriginal and non–Aboriginal, female and male, carry on the traditions of processing and preserving food from the land for themselves. Berries are a great example of how, with labour on our part, the bounty of the earth can be transformed and feed our families: berries will reappear throughout the winter baked in pies, as jams, jellies and syrups or dried in baking and snacks. Frozen blueberries may show up in muffins or pancakes in January. The burst of tart sweetness will bring back the scent of summer in an instant. The brightness of the day you knelt among low bush blueberries, with the sun on your back and the sound of honey bees surrounding you will flood your memory and warm a cold winter’s day with the promise of summer. In fact, the berry’s life cycle is the story of a perfect circle of returning to the land and finding satisfaction, physically, emotionally and nutritionally.

The story the humble berry tells us is that the land can give us more than just food and can feed people in more ways than just physically. Nature can also feed our spirit and soul.

Where do you go to enjoy nature? What are your favourite pursuits outside of the city?  Let’s share our stories of how to enjoy nature in a healthy way.

[Editor’s note: Don’t forget to enter the Healthy Living Week 4 Challenge and tell us about how you source local food for your chance to win a great mini freezer!]

Agnes Snow

About Agnes Snow

Agnes is Northern Health’s regional director of Aboriginal health. She started her career in health as a licensed practical nurse in Vancouver, and then moved back to her home community of Canoe Creek where she worked as an additions counselor and then as an elected leader. Agnes originally came to Northern Health as a counselor and treatment therapist at the Nechako Treatment Centre, and then moved to Aboriginal health as the Community Engagement Coordinator, before taking on her current role.