June 16th, 2024

Wellness program offers pathway to healthy living

By Dale Woodard on September 9, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard - A group of walkers hit the trails at the Helen Schuler Nature Reserve for Wellness Wednesday, a program offered toward healthy living for older adults.

A local initiative is looking to make Lethbridge the healthiest place to live.
Since May, that initiative has been taking steps in the right direction to make that happen with Wellness Wednesday taking place three times a month.
The free health and wellness program for older adults in the Lethbridge area – presented by Healthy Lethbridge and funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program – aims to make Lethbridge one of Canada’s healthiest cities for seniors to age well and thrive in.
The program offers three sessions each month until March of 2022 on a variety of topics that encourage active living, eating wisely, making meaningful connections, living fulfilling, purposeful lives and enhancing mental health.
“Wellness Wednesday is an initiative to try and get Lethbridge to be the healthiest city for seniors to live well in and thrive in,” said Diane Gallagher, projects coordinator at the Be Fit For Life Centre at Lethbridge College. “What we’ve been doing is bringing three activities a month, two virtual and one in-person activity. The activities are all free of charge. We have a wide variety of presenters and leaders who have been bringing nutrition, active living and mental health opportunities for our participants.”
On Wednesday, Helen Schuler Nature Centre nature interpretation program leader Taylor Hecker led a group through a guided tour of the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.
“One of the staff at the centre will be leading our group through and exploring a lot of the benefits of nature, not just the physical being out in nature, but also the mental benefits of spending time in nature,” said Gallagher, adding other presentations include nutrition for older adults.
“We have a person coming to work with us on a living strong series that involves living with purpose, exploring emotional, social and spiritual well-being. We have some more physical activity planned as well, so strength for bones and joints. We’ve done some pole walking and yoga, so there is a good variety of opportunities for people to take part in.”
Gallagher said the informational programs are done over Zoom with the more active sessions taking place in person.
“In our informational sessions we’ve had some presenters and dietitians,” she said. “We’ve had a physician present on how to keep a sharp mind as we age and we’ve head researchers from the University of Lethbridge. People are learning things and we’re really hopeful the program will help to educate people on why these initiatives are important and how they can incorporate them into their lives regularly and inspire them to live a more healthy lifestyle.”
Gallagher said there’s a large portion of the population in the community within the age demographic for Wellness Wednesday.
“I think the health of that demographic and population is really representative of the health of our whole community and we certainly need to value that. This is our way of trying to bring people together to not only bring that healthy lifestyle to them individually, but to connect them with opportunities within the community and to connect them to others. As we all know, we’ve been lacking some of those connections in the last while and we know that has such a big impact on people’s overall health.”
Among the participants in Wednesday morning’s walk was Kathy Lewis.
“It’s very important for me,” she said of the program. “I’m aging and I want to look at how that’s going to look in my life. I think that’s why I’m interested in aging and changing the concept of what we do after we retire and what does life look like? Do we just sit back and do nothing or do we maintain a healthy lifestyle?”
Lewis said the idea for adopting healthy behaviour is not new to her.
“I’ve always been active and fit and tried to eat well and do all of those things. For community I’m mainly concerned about having Lethbridge have the reputation for being the healthiest community for people to age in and for people to live in in Canada.
“For me, I think it’s critical that as we age we maintain connectedness, certainly to our families, community and friends and to have a strong sense of purpose to be contributing members of society, which we always have been and there’s no reason that should be any different. By incorporating these these things into our daily lives, it helps our families, friends and community to benefit.”
Since starting up in May, Gallagher said the feedback has been great from participants.
“It’s been a good variety of activities. Not everybody comes to every event and that’s fine. You can choose the ones that are interesting to you, but we’ve had great feedback. But we’re hoping to build that base of participation.”
Though the programs are free, Gallagher said people are encouraged to register to information is able to be sent out to participants.
Visit http://www.lethbridgecollege.ca/departments/be-fit-for-life and scroll down to Wellness Wednesday to get information and register.
Those interested can also call Gallagher at (403) 382-6919.

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