What inhibits Canada (or the US) from being the fittest nation in the world?
Along with John Weston, former Member of Parliament and co-founder of the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute (CHFI), earlier this month we asked about 30 physicians, business and media people who are focused on wellness the above question over a healthy breakfast of avocado toast with an optional poached egg and a side of fruit.
But why even ask the question? I'm not breaking any secrets when I share that our health care system is in crisis, with doctor, nurse and bed shortages, long term care challenges, the over-dose crisis (killing on average 4 people a day in BC) and so on. This despite Canada investing a world high nearly 13% of GDP on "health care".
I believe that fitness matters. But not just to stave off encounters with a challenged health care system, fitness matters because its foundational to our quality of life, including enjoying relationships and getting out into nature and extending independent living late in our lives. That's why I’m passionate it and why it's SierraSil’s mission is to help people be healthier and more active.
By why ask the question now? Canada is at a potential inflection point for health as pharma-care is introduced in Ottawa. Yes, there is an important and often critical role for drugs as part of patient care, but biasing treatment to drugs may risk the unintended consequence of having a widely medicated country instead of largely healthy country. Why? Economists tell us anything you subsidize you will have more of, as it alters economic decisions for cash strapped consumers.
Our medical doctors (MDs) should have more than hammers in their toolbox. They should be able to prescribe options that lead to healthier outcomes, not just medicated outcomes. Your cholesterol is high? How about prescribing a dietician who can help you with healthier food choices and or a kinesiologist who can help with exercise to support a healthier HDL to LDL ratio. If that isn't adequate, but it may well be, then consider a prescription for a statin drug (but also prescribing CoQ10).
So that is the context of the question, "What inhibits Canada from being the fittest nation in the world?". While I don't have a summary yet of all the suggestions from the breakfast gathering, here are some of the ideas that I can recall:
- We need more opportunities for kids who aren't elite athletes to maintain the sports participation into adulthood.
- We need kids sports events that require less driving time for parents (parents are usually idled from activity while chauffeuring children)
- We need to be less automated in our movement (driving vs alternatives, stairs vs escalators, etc)
- Make options to elevators more clear and highlight benefits of taking the stairs instead (for low rise buildings!)
- We need to change our mindset from needing exercise to wanting activity.
- We need to not "accept" the weather as a problem, but invest in appropriate clothes to enjoy activity even in the cold, snow or rain.
- We need to incentivize business to help, for example
- lower property taxes for the share of a food store dedicated to healthy, fresh foods vs processed foods
- encourage employees to walk or bike more, even moving meetings outdoors, walking to/from a park
- We need to learn how to cook healthy foods, made with Canadian ingredients, to be delicious (they can be!)
- We need MDs to be able to prescribe options other than drugs for Canadians!
We then asked, "What should the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute (CHFI) do about it?" One of the key take-aways I got from that was encouraging youth ambassadors. Our environmental focus is often driven or lead by young people focused on their future. Can we encourage Greta's of fitness? Can Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies be encouraged to have fitness be part of their mandate, especially Ministers of Health? Again, I don't a summary yet of the responses we received, so these are but a few recollections.
I welcome hearing from you on this topic. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org - kindly reference May Blog in the subject line. If you would like to learn more about the Canadian Health and Fitness Institute, visit their website www.https://www.chfi.fit/ And if you think health care should be more than pharma-care, please reach out to your Member of Parliament. Ask them to at least commission a study on the subject and explore the indirect costs and benefits of giving MDs more options.
As always, thank you for being a SierraSil(R) customer. As you may know our joy is helping you be healthier and more active naturally!
PS The winners of our April draw for The Tenth Nerve by Dr. Chris Honey, MD, Neurosurgeon were Joyce Willder and Teresa Fujimoto.