ON THE go!PEI: Healthy lifestyle benefits from group support

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Betty Robertson (left) joined the Summerside 5k Learn to Run/Walk program with her family. They had three generations taking part, Betty, Zach Thususka (centre) and Cathy Thususka. submitted

By Shani Gillespie

go!PEI, Prince Edward Island’s healthy living movement, is sharing the message that one of the best ways to get healthy and stay that way in 2013 can be found through group participation.

With Christmas just passed and a new year coming, we’re all spending time with family and friends and resetting our priorities. What better gift to give someone you know than participating together in a healthy living program?

The benefits of creating healthy change within a group setting is a concept with demonstrated success. This past summer and fall, Summerside resident Betty Robertson participated in go!PEI’s Run/Walk 5 km program with her daughter Cathy Thususka and 13-year-old grandson Zachary.

“I heard about the program and I registered all of us,” says Robertson. “As my daughter said, ‘You registered us all, so we had no choice but to go.’ The three of us motivated each other. My grandson was getting in shape for hockey and he really did learn to run. He ran on ahead keeping pace with faster runners; this was possible as part of a larger group of people. Cathy and I walked it at a hefty pace.”

Of the group experience, Robertson adds, “It was a great family experience for us. We never missed a Tuesday night. My daughter and I would chat the whole time. We were watching other participants and seeing how well people were improving. Even though we didn’t know each other’s names we would stop to chat and get to know each other. We were all proud of each other’s accomplishments.”

Robertson notes an additional benefit of participating with her grandson, “Another neat thing was that Zachary was just as proud of us as he was of himself. It was neat to see. He was at the finish line waiting for us and came to meet us to encourage us across the finish line at the final Walk/Run.”

Maria Stordy was another first time participant in the Summerside Walk/Run 5 km program this past summer and fall. Joining her were partner Garth Thompson, sister Tammy Ranni, and co-workers Lori Warren and Monica Morrison.

 “We figured if we joined as a group it would motivate us to keep going when we got tired,” says Stordy. “When we were trying on our own was so easy to say, ‘I’m hot’ or ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m too busy this week’, but when we knew we had to get our practice runs in because the leader was going to increase the time a bit the next week, it really motivated us to keep going. We met a lot of other nice people who helped motivate us too.”

Stordy finished the program’s final Walk/Run in less than 30 minutes. “Our whole group did well,” she says. “It was a great sense of accomplishment. We were all so proud of ourselves when we finished that run. It was something we really enjoyed doing together, and it’s something we continue to talk about. Even now we still keep motivating each other along.”

With a number of go!PEI programs coming up in the new year we want more Islanders to experience the benefits of adapting a healthy lifestyle with group support. Participating in go!PEI programs with family or friends kills two birds with one stone – You’re able to get together and catch up with each other, and you keep active or learn about healthy eating at the same time.

For information about upcoming go!PEI programs in your community, visit www.gopei.ca or call 902-892-5323.

Shani Gillespie is go!PEI’s provincial co-ordinator.

 

 

 

Organizations: Summerside Walk/Run 5

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Summerside

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