Trying to quit smoking is difficult so the Co-operative Health Clinic in Prince Albert is working on ways to help people quit.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Participants and leaders of the Learn to Run for Smokers program start out their training on the walking path by the river on Monday evening.
On Monday evening, the health clinic started their new program, Learn to Run for Smokers, which combines physical fitness with helping motivate people to quit.
“We have decided to attack the smoking problem in society with a different approach,” respiratory therapist Donna Turner said.
The program was developed in Nova Scotia by the Lung Association and has seen success in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Alberta.
“The whole idea of it is to engage smokers with exercise and fitness and looking at changing their lifestyle a little bit that way so they can actually look at making changes in their smoking behaviour as well,” Turner said.
The Co-operative Health Centre is the first to bring the program to Saskatchewan, with the support of both the Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia Lung Associations.
“As it is for anybody, healthier lifestyle, healthy body, healthier lungs will make everybody feel better and stronger,” Turner said. “The benefits are the same as for non-smokers, actually.”
Turner said the program should be a good fit in Saskatchewan, since the province has one of the highest teenage smoking rates in the country.
“Of course, we would like to see that change, but with little steps,” Turner said.
Many of the participants, including Jacques Marais, are taking the program for health reasons.
“I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve smoked before and every now and then I still do,” he said.
He believes the Learn to Run for Smokers program is a great idea.
“Breathing isn’t anything that anyone should take as a laughing matter -- there is nothing as bad as not being able to breathe,” Marais said. “In terms of lifestyle habits, smoking itself has a lot of down-the-line harmful effects on the body.”
The program doesn’t focus on smoking cessation, although that is one of the topics, but instead focuses on the fitness portion -- how to run.
“Our goal is to reach the five-kilometre mark in eight weeks, either walking or running,” Turner said. “We are going to touch on nutrition, proper footwear when you exercise and actually the benefits of exercise as well.”
Focusing on an activity rather than on trying to quit may give people more incentive to put down their cigarettes.
“If we can curb two things at one time, try to cut down the amount of smoking -- not saying quit it completely -- we’ll do small steps,” he added. “Also on the other side of the spectrum, start taking charge on things we can do to give us feedback on how well this is working for us and how well can you really feel if you can eventually get through it.”
Marais said working in a group activity is also a great way to focus on something, because you can “get better at it and feed off the support from other people.”
“You can’t get somewhere if you don’t know how to measure it. Let’s get the support, let’s get it down, let’s take the first step and let’s get healthy. Summer is here -- what better time to do it?”