By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Smokers, those wanting to quit or those who have quit can learn to become more physically active with the new free pilot program Find Your Stride from Alberta Health Services (AHS). “It is an exercise program for people who use tobacco. It’s a pilot program. It’s a brand new program to Alberta,” said clinical educator and RN at the Campbell Clinic in Coaldale Robyn Chelte, adding Find Your Stride is based on a Nova Scotia program called Learn To Run For Smokers.
In Nova Scotia, Chelte noted, they had great success with their program. “In Alberta, we tried that program within AHS and found there was some improvements that could be made and with the permission of the Nova Scotia Lung and Stroke Association AHS was able to create this program somewhat based on theirs,” Chelte explained.
According to the clinical educator, Find Your Stride is primarily a fitness program for people to learn to exercise by using walking and running, as a basis.
“But, there will be other exercise that we will do. It becomes almost like a support group for people who are using tobacco and hopefully for those that are interested in quitting,” she said.
Chelte added there is no expectation for smokers to quit in this program. “We’re going to try and make a welcoming environment and provide support to those who wish to reduce or quit. But once again there’s no expectation to quit.”
During the program, Chelte said, tobacco reduction techniques and counselling are a part of the material to be presented. Find Your Stride is being offered in Coaldale Tuesdays from Sept. 15 until Nov. 3 at the Coaldale Public Library from 5-7 p.m. To learn more or to register call 1-855-943-6718 or locally at 403-345-3072.
Coaldale is the only community in the health region to be running the pilot program this fall. “There’s five sites and we’re just one of the five,” said Chelte, adding Lethbridge isn’t one of the sites.
“It was a decision we made with Lethbridge. There’s an existing program called QuitCore, I’ve helped run in the past and this is kind of an off-shoot of it. They’re going to continue with QuitCore and QuitCore will be running in Lethbridge approximately the same time we are running this. But this one in Coaldale is the Find Your Stride — the pilot project,” she said.
Once the pilot program is complete, Chelte said, AHS is hoping it is first and foremost a success and the pilot program works well for participants both in increasing physical fitness and hopefully decreasing tobacco use. “We can foresee it will go past the pilot project and into regular use in all areas of the health region.”
There will be an evaluation piece AHS is in charge of, after the initial run of the pilot program, Chelte said. The pilot program, according to AHS, will run once a week for eight weeks and each session will last approximately two hours. Find Your Stride is designed for any level of fitness. Activity levels are customized to each participant. A combination of walking, running and stretching is included in each training session to support everyone’s safety and comfort.