| Feb 05, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - February 5, 2009 Sharbot Lake Walks

Some of Northern Connections Adult Learning Centre staff showing off their new pedometers.  From left to right: Jim Tysick, Laurie Watson, Kelly Cowdy, Sharon Badour, Arlene Uens and Joyce Bigelow.

If you see more people out and about walking around the village, it’s due to the Sharbot Lake Walking Challenge.

In January, the Sharbot Lake Family Medical Family Health Team staff challenged the staff at Dr. Dale’s Dental Clinic to a walk-off. In February, the staff at Northern Connections Adult Learning Centres took up the challenge as well.

Now, the three agencies are challenging other Sharbot Lake businesses to walk more.

Elizabeth Bigelow, medical secretary at the medical centre, talked about how the idea came about.

“Cathy Fox and I decided to start this competition at the beginning of the new year because we realized that everyone had the same common New Year resolutions, to get fit and be healthier. We figured that we could better meet our goals by having the support and competition within our team.”

Cathy Fox RN said, “it seems like a silly concept but it works. It is a little ‘healthy’ inner office competition.

Once the Medical Centre staff got going they got thinking that some external competition might be fun, as well.

“We decided to take it one step further and challenge another active member of the community - the dentist office,” said Elizabeth Bigelow. “We chose the dentist because we knew they would be tough competition. Sandy Robertson, the dental assistant, teaches an aerobic class Monday nights at Fit Plus. Her husband Brian is training for a 50km ski marathon, so we often saw the staff walking.”

When asked why the dental office accepted the challenge, Sandy Robertson said “Well, we were challenged. Of course, we responded! Sometimes we run on the spot just to get the clicks up.” Sandy is also training for a 10K run, so this extra incentive is great for.

Joyce Bigelow, executive director of Northern Connections Adult Learning Centres, heard of the competition from her daughter Elizabeth.

“I knew that I needed to improve my fitness and asked the rest of the staff at the Learning Centre if they wanted to take on the Medical Centre and Dentist’s office,” she said.

Northern Connections bought all their staff pedometers to track their mileage, but free pedometers can be ordered from crystalight.ca

“Some employers have gyms for their staff, I thought we could afford a few pedometers to get us more fit and feeling better,” said Joyce Bigelow. “We are tracking our steps on a log, so we can see our weekly activity improvement.”

Tracy Keefe, of the dispensary at the medical centre said “a little competition is really motivating.”

The staff of Sharbot Lake Family Health Team are now daily at lunch hours, take more steps in office and some have purchased treadmills to work out in the evening. The progress is really showing. Elizabeth Bigelow found it made changes in her daily routine,

“It is amazing how it pushes you to do that much more in a day. Rather than emailing across the room, I now get up and deliver the message in person”

The original challenge between the dentists office and the medical centre was to see who could walk (virtually) to Kenora, which is the westernmost city in Ontario. The medical centre staff racked up enough kilometres in two weeks to reach Parry Sound.

Since they started earlier and as businesses and groups have different numbers of participants, they feel a good challenge for all would be the most kilometres averaged per person in a month.

Groups will be vying for the newly established, highly venerated, Golden Walking Shoe Award each month.

Janice Morrow, RN and diabetic educator at the medical centre has no doubt who is going to win the shoe this month.

“Eat our dust,” she boasts in challenging the community to keep up with herself and her medical centre colleagues (ed. Note, eat our slush might have been more accurate this month).

So, how can you get involved?

Just get yourself a pedometer and some fellow group members to share with. Any aerobic activity is acceptable, not just walking, If your pedometer won’t track it, counting about 15 minutes as equivalent to a kilometre would probably be close for skiing, swimming, etc. Then, start keeping daily or weekly track of the total number of steps or kilometres you travel. The average stride length is .413 times your height. These steps can then be converted to kilometres. Joyce and Elizabeth have set up an email account This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to send in results (The results will be tracked at Frontenacnews.ca as well)

Just drop them a note and you will be counted in, or ask questions and get some advice on how to get moving.

They are planning to set up some other web-based activity for people to share ideas, soon, and hope to get a lunch - time group walk established in the village. Come on, STEP UP and get involved! Don’t forget that getting moving not only burns calories, but it improves the health of your heart and lungs.

Sharbot Lake is also challenging other communities to join in.

Who knows, by the end of 2009 Sharbot Lake Walks could become Land O’ Lakes walks.

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