I Believe that Exercise IS Medicine
In 1997, Al Mumtaz went for a check up with his doctor and was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. He began taking a prescription that included oral medication and insulin to manage the condition.
Al recalls the early days of his diagnosis. “I struggled with it over the years because I’m one of those people who loves food. But after my diabetes diagnosis, I had a minor heart attack because of a blocked artery and went through surgery. I knew I needed to get serious about my health.”
He became a member at the Reh-Fit Centre and joined the Cardiac Rehab program. As his level of fitness improved, he began working out a minimum of five times per week. “I start off with three laps around the track, half hour on the bike and then high intensity interval training when I go fast for a minute and slow it down for a minute on the bike. The staff at the Reh-Fit really helped provide me with the information I needed to stay motivated – they were amazing.”
Al’s focus on fitness has paid off in ways he never anticipated. “Exercise has helped me to lower my blood sugar levels greatly without having to give up all the foods I love. Because of that, my doctor has been able to reduce my dosage of medication and thinks if I continue down this path that he may be able to take me off my medication completely.”
Exercise has also improved Al’s sense of well-being. “I had inexplicable aches and pains that I put down to aging. Now all the aches and pains are gone. Plus I’ve got so much energy. I feel like if everyone started working out we could put the pharmaceutical companies out of business! I believe exercise is medicine.”
Al also believes that it’s never too late to start taking care of yourself. He adds, “My best friend is 76 and thinks it’s too late to work out but you can come here and feel comfortable at any age. There are people here in their 80s and 90s and it’s great to see.”
A Balanced Approach
Sylvia Connor joined the Reh-Fit Centre six years ago. “I enjoy the Stretch & Strength classes and like to walk the track. For my age they said I’m in very good shape,” adds Sylvia.
But at age 81, Sylvia began to notice that her balance was ‘off’. “When I was walking in a straight line I’d end up veering off. It wasn’t too bad to start with but over the past year I really noticed it deteriorating.”
The Reh-Fit understands the importance of balance, which is why the Centre introduced the 8-week Improve Your Balance and Mobility – Falls Prevention program. “One in three people over the age of 65 fall each year and it’s a major cause of injury. As we age it’s easy to lose our balance so this program is designed to coach people on the techniques they can use to improve balance and prevent falls, ” says an instructor.
Sylvia signed up for the class and loved it. “It was helpful and fun. I actually looked forward to going — which is saying something when it comes to exercise. “
The class uses a combination of exercise and play to learn the techniques for improving balance. “We did a lot with balls and walking on both sides of a line and then crossing over and learning how to adjust your centre of gravity. We played balloon basketball and volleyball. The staff was very supportive,” says Sylvia.
Sylvia continues to practice the techniques in her daily life to improve her balance. “As long as I’m alert to my balance issues I can now go back to a straight line. It’s a matter of getting the brain re-organized so it will automatically adjust. “People here are enthusiastic – it’s a very nice centre with very good staff. It just seems like the right thing to do. My doctor is very keen that I continue to exercise.”
First Steps for a Second Act
For Judy Knight, there didn’t seem to be an explicable cause for her chest pain and shortness of breath. Dozens of tests revealed there were no blockages, but she experienced heart palpitations and quickly became exhausted with any exertion.
Fortunately, Manitoba doctors are now armed with a new prescription for health – the First Steps program at the Reh-Fit Centre. Designed for people working with their physician to manage or prevent a chronic condition, First Steps gives participants eight weeks of education, exercise, coaching, and support and puts them on a path to an improved quality of life.
Judy registered for the new program and recalls that her doctor was concerned about having her resume activities. “My heart would race and it was scary,” says Judy. “But the Reh-Fit staff watched me very carefully, did an assessment and monitored me, advised what to do, and how much. It was very personalized and very gradual.”
Through the program, Judy participated in a group session twice a week with additional exercise sessions prescribed by the Reh-Fit’s professional staff.
“I can now walk around the track 10 times on my own which is a huge improvement. The classroom instruction was also very helpful. The group was small enough that you could get to know people, and it gave me confidence because you saw others at similar stages and weren’t embarrassed when you couldn’t do something fully and they were experiencing the same thing. That helps you push ahead,” says Judy.
She continues to gain greater independence and feel better. “I feel stronger, have fewer strong heart palpitations, and less shortness of breath.”
Now recently retired, Judy is focusing on continuing to improve her health. “I’m going into the second act of my life and realize being healthier is better, so my husband and I are becoming members at the Reh-Fit.”
A visit to her physician confirmed she’s on the right track. “I’ve followed up with my family doctor and he’s happy with my progress – my colour is back and so is my stamina. I can do more without assistance and I feel like the First Steps program has really put me on a new and better path.”
“I am happier, feel better, and have more energy!”
Shortness of breath prompted Alex Yoong to see his doctor. “I have a strong family history of heart disease which makes me a higher risk so I thought I should check it out. I ended up having quadruple bypass heart surgery,” says Alex.
At the recommendation of his cardiologist, Alex registered for the 16-week Cardiac Rehabilitation program at the Reh-Fit Centre.
“The program was excellent. It aligns with some of my personal goals of living longer, eating healthier, and being stronger. I learned a lot and came away with some simple things I could do to improve my diet and lifestyle,” says Alex.
But the road to recovery wasn’t always easy. “It was hard work getting back to my normal state. The Reh-Fit has professional staff from various disciplines, and they assisted me and answered any questions I had. They kept a very close watch on our group.”
After completing the program, Alex became a member. “I had worked out occasionally before, but never on a consistent basis. Now I’m here six days a week and my goal is to get about 150 minutes of activity every week.”
His commitment is paying off. “I am happier, feel better, and have more energy. I look forward to coming to the Reh-Fit to work out!”