Champions of health

A letter from the Winnipeg Health Region

Winnipeg Health Region President & CEO
Wave, May / June 2011

Arlene Wilgosh

Ahh, spring.

Finally, after months of snow and cold, we can now venture outdoors for a burst of physical activity without having to bundle up to keep warm. The long underwear can stay in the dresser drawer as the mercury rises and the days become warmer and brighter.

Even Riza - my four-legged walking companion - is more excited than usual to get outside and sniff every tree and patch of grass along the route through our neighbourhood.

We've been kick-starting the day with a brisk walk for the last five or six years. I've found that revving up my metabolism in the morning helps to get me going and keeps my stress levels manageable throughout the day. While I'm out pounding the pavement, I think about upcoming events and get some of my best ideas listening to tracks on my MP3 player or tuning in to the radio.

This morning ritual is important to me. My grandma died from a heart attack, and both my mom and aunt have high cholesterol. Over the years, I've learned that being active can help keep my heart strong and healthy.

The question, of course, is how active do we need to be in order to maintain good health? You will find part of the answer to that question in this issue of Wave.

As in motion columnist Deanna Betteridge points out, we have been conditioned to think that working out for short periods, three times a week will provide us with some health benefits. And while that is certainly true, Deanna says that's not the whole story. In fact, new research suggests that someone who works out three times a week could still be considered sedentary if he or she is not active during the rest of the day.

The best way to combat this problem, according to the experts, is to break up the routine of the day with activity breaks. Going for a walk in the morning, as I do with my dog, is one suggestion. Walking around the block at lunchtime is another. Want to learn more? Check out Deanna's column.

Of course, the importance of being active throughout the day won't come as a surprise to Jaymi Derrett. As our cover story in this issue of Wave points out, she recently won a Healthy Living Award from the Reh-Fit Foundation for her efforts to get Manitobans moving.

The Reh-Fit Centre established the Healthy Living Awards in 1999. They are designed to celebrate the individuals, businesses and community agencies in our community that work to promote healthy lifestyles. This year's award winners were fĂȘted at a special dinner on April 14 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. It's a terrific program, and one that we here at the Winnipeg Health Region are happy to support through Wave.

Jaymi is a worthy recipient. From leading fitness classes to developing provincial programs focused on active living, she has relentlessly worked to share her passion for fitness with others.

Getty Stewart is another person who is making a healthy difference in our community. She picked up a Healthy Living Award in the individual category this year for her work in creating a Fruit Share program here in our city.

Under the program, volunteers pick otherwise unused fruit from trees in people's backyards and split the bounty between the homeowner, the volunteers who pick the fruit, and local food banks. It's a terrific idea, one that helps build community while ensuring this delicious and nutritious food does not go to waste. In one year alone, her volunteer base of 10 pickers has blossomed to about 40.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention some of our own "health champions" here at the Region.

As you flip through the pages of this issue of Wave, you will come across a story about a Winnipeg Health Region program that helps seniors live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

Under the Geriatric Program Assessment Team (GPAT) program, clinicians visit at-risk seniors to assess their overall health and well-being, and determine whether they need support from programs such as home care or Meals on Wheels. The program, managed by Marlene Graceffo, is considered to be one of the best of its kind in Canada, and recently received a Leading Practice designation from Accreditation Canada, the agency responsible for reviewing health-care practices.

You will also find stories about some of the outstanding work being done by medical health researchers in this community. Dr. Terry Klassen, for example, is one of the top pediatric researchers in Canada. He returned home to Manitoba last fall to head up an outstanding team of researchers at the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, an organization that is really helping to improve the way we care for our children.

There are many people like Jaymi and Getty, Marlene and Terry who are champions of health. When you hear about the wonderful things they're doing to help people live healthy, you can't help but feel inspired to do something to stay healthy. Maybe even inspired enough to go for a walk with the dog.

Wave: May / June 2011

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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