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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Acupuncture: a traditional approach to health and wellbeing

Friday, September 9, 2016 @ 11:09 AM
posted by admin

By Dr. Natalie Bernicky

So why choose acupuncture as part of your health care? Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing practices in the world, originating in China about 2000-5000 years ago. In 1979 the World Health Organization (WHO) formally endorsed acupuncture, and listed 41 diseases amenable to acupuncture treatment. Since then, the WHO has sponsored worldwide training programs in acupuncture, primarily because of its cost-effectiveness.

More recently, both the Canadian and American military have turned to acupuncture as a means of managing chronic and acute pain in active duty members, where conventional medications and therapies were unsuccessful. To date, the results have been positive with members feeling improvements both physically and mentally. Acupuncture is a safe treatment and has been in the public domain in Ontario for decades.   

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine, and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. Most commonly associated with needles, acupuncture therapy can also include the application of heat, pressure, and electric current or laser light to different points on the body. With traditional Chinese medicine the goal of treatment is to correct imbalances in energy, known as de Qi (the chi) flowing through channels known as meridians.  

Health care practitioners may reference traditional Chinese methods, while combining the scientific, neurological and anatomical approach to the nervous system. This is known as biomedical acupuncture, where the goal of treatment is to cause local tissue activity to stimulate a healing response.

In biomedical acupuncture points are chosen based on the patient’s area of complaint, and combine all aspects of the nervous system. The aim of physical therapy is to stimulate healing via the nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and controls the function of your entire body. Sterilized, single use, needles are inserted at the selected points, and left in place for 15 to 30 minutes. The practitioner will make adjustments to the needles halfway through treatment to re-engage the nervous system.

During treatment patients may experience a characteristic feeling, particularly in muscular points, known in Chinese literature as the “arrival of Qi” sensation. This sensation usually differs from the feeling of insertion itself, and may be described as a dull ache, tingling, heaviness or warmth. This sensation cannot be reproduced in every acupuncture point, and varies within individuals and between treatments.

Common benefits of acupuncture treatment include: increased mobility or range of motion, decreased pain, improved mood, improved sleep, increased circulation, and increased cell turnover or healing. Patients often report feeling happy and relaxed after an acupuncture treatment.

So why consider acupuncture? There are many reasons that people seek out acupuncture care. Here are some common health conditions the World Health Organization has researched and found acupuncture an effective health intervention: low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, tennis elbow, knee pain, arthritis of the shoulder, sprains, facial pain, allergies (including hay fever) headache, rheumatoid arthritis, nausea, and temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders. If you suspect you have any of the above conditions, speak with your health care provider, there are solutions available for your health and wellbeing.

Dr. Natalie Bernicky is a chiropractor and acupuncture provider at Smiths Falls Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre.

Healthy Living: Meditation for Children

Monday, July 11, 2016 @ 02:07 PM
posted by admin

The Dalai Lama once said, “If every child in the world would be taught meditation we would eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” This quote captures the powerful benefits of this mindful practice for children of any age. A peaceful heart and existence can go a long way in helping children learn some building blocks to assist them in living a balanced life. Meditation helps children feel what it is like to be still and quiet. It helps them tune into their inner wisdom to feel safe and secure in the world while learning ways to breathe and to feel their own breath.  

Some of the many benefits include the following items.

  1. Promotes inner peace and compassion, greatly reducing stress that leads to anxiety. Children learn to become aware of their bodies and their reaction to stressors on an emotional and physical level.  If they feel threatened or scared in their world, they may feel things like headaches, stomach aches and body pain.  Meditation helps bring awareness to different fears so children can learn how to choose different thoughts to slow their minds and the physical symptoms in their bodies.
  2. Improves attention, memory and concentration.  Meditation helps children develop the ability to focus and concentrate improving their ability to control impulsive behaviour.  A study completed at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, Australia revealed that children with ADHD who learned meditation when compared to the control group showed a significant reduction in hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention.  (www.meditationresearch.co.uk)
  3. Builds self-esteem. In a relaxed state, children can tap into both their positive and negative experiences in a day, all of which help them learn and become resilient.  In a world full of technology and distractions at the touch of a screen, children are quickly losing opportunities for free play and learning in silence. Meditation allows them an opportunity to use their natural inherit creativity, which promotes a healthy and strong sense of self-esteem.
  4. Improves sleep.  This can benefit both parent and child!  By learning the art of relaxation children can transition soundly from a state of movement to a state of alpha induced sleep.  Parents can use guided meditations at bedtime as a part of their routines.

Parents often are unaware of what to do to promote meditation in their children.  Start simply and make it part of your family routine.  It can be as simple as sitting in silence for five minutes or taking a silent walk in the forest and building on that.  Become the change you wish to see.  Children copy their parents’ behaviour so if you want to get your children interested in meditation, begin to meditate!  Invite your children to breathe into their bellies and enjoy watching their bellies shrink as they exhale.  Another fun breathing exercise is alternate nostril breathing.  Creating a peaceful space together that incorporates natural calming elements helps encourage regular practice.  Supporting your child’s meditation practice evokes an ability for them to connect with the soft spots of their hearts and bodies.  It allows them a different perspective on their own energy and that of others.  

— Submitted by Maureen Sullivan of Tree of Life Energy Wellness & Amanda Tyler of Wings of Light Wellness

Lanark Health Unit issues heat alert

Monday, June 20, 2016 @ 11:06 AM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer of Health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, has issued a heat alert because of the high heat and humidity that is in the forecast over the next few days.

Temperatures and humidex levels are expected to be high into early next week. A combination of heat and high humidity can be hazardous to your health.

Conditions during high heat and humidity have the potential to cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and in some cases death. Everyone is at risk; however the following are in greater danger of being affected:

    • elderly people with chronic illness or who take certain medications;
    • infants and preschool children; and
    • people who participate in physical activity or are involved in strenuous outdoor work for prolonged periods.

During a heat alert, the public is strongly encouraged to check on a neighbour or a friend who may have a greater risk of suffering negative health consequences from the heat and humidity.

During very hot weather, everyone should take the following precautions.

    • Do not leave children, adults or pets in parked cars or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
    • Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding the side effects of your medications.
    • Drink plenty of water and 100% fruit juices throughout the day, even if you don’t feel very thirsty.
    • Remember to take sips often and not to guzzle your drink.
    • Eat foods that have high water content such as watermelon, grapes and oranges.
    • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
    • Avoid going out in the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible.
    • Whenever possible go to an air-conditioned room or building, including shopping malls and libraries
    • Wear loose fitting, light clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
    • Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home.
    • Keep electric lights off or turned down low.
    • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
    • Visit a local pool or beach – check for postings
    •  Avoid eating heavy meals and using your oven.
    • Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a main cooling device during long periods of high heat and humidity.
    • Reduce the use of personal vehicles, stop unnecessary idling; avoid using oil-based paints and glues, pesticides and gas-powered small engines.

      Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can cause health problems. If you experience the following symptoms after exposure to extreme heat seek medical attention immediately:

    • nausea, dizziness, blurred vision;
    • difficulty or rapid breathing;
    • severe headache or confusion;
    • convulsion; and or
    • fever

For more information on how to protect your health during extreme heat, visit the health unit website at www.healthunit.org. For specific health heat-related questions call the Health Action Line at: 1-800-660-5853 or 613-345- 5685. You can also connect with us at LGLHealthunit on Facebook or Twitter.

Healthy Living Festival returns for fourth year

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 @ 09:06 AM
posted by admin

By: April Scott-Clarke

For the fourth year in a row the annual Healthy Living Festival will be taking to the streets of downtown Smiths Falls on June 18.

The Downtown Business Association (DBA) has been planning the event since November and has been able to bring together an interesting lineup of performances and activities for people to enjoy. This year there will be a Little Thing Running Thing for kids in the morning and multiple Hockey Circus Show performances, alongside jugglers and acrobatic acts throughout the day.

And for anyone who likes inflatables, there will be lots at the festival for you to try out! You can walk on water with the water balls, zip down a 75-foot inflatable zip line or do an obstacle course from inside a ball. And new this year, a toddler zone for the littles ones who want to jump.

But the Healthy Living Festival is about more than just performances and activities. There will be a vendor market that people can purchase anything from fresh, grown veggies to yoga cloths. “There is a variety of vendors and hopefully, there is something for everyone,” said Nicola Thomson, DBA coordinator.
The Healthy Living Festival is a tradition now in Smiths Falls, one that started as a way to bring people into the downtown core. “We have a lot of people in the community that are involved in health and wellness,” explained Thomson, making the theme of the festival a natural one.

Last year the festival attracted approximately 8,000 people and Thomson is guessing that just as many, or more, make it out to this year’s event.

The opening ceremonies will kick off at 10 a.m. with everything wrapping up at 4 p.m. And Thomson reminds everyone that the event is free. “We didn’t want to have any barriers for the community,” she said. “This event really wouldn’t be possible without the help of the organizing committee. It’s a volunteer board. And the local businesses have been generous with their sponsorship too.”

For a complete run down on the Healthy Living Festival, schedule of events or registration for the various sports tournaments and fundraisers happening, visit the website at downtownsmithsfalls.ca/healthy-living-festival.  

Lanark County working to fight wild parsnip

Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 08:04 AM
posted by admin

Submitted by the Lanark County municipality

As warm weather approaches, Lanark County and local municipal staff and decision makers have been gathering information on best practices for controlling noxious plants, particularly wild parsnip, while gaining understanding of the risks they pose.

County Council has approved continuing a roadside weed spraying program in 2016 for all county roads for two consecutive years, and then to proceed with biannual spraying of 50 per cent of the road system starting in year three. “We plan to work to eradicate wild parsnip by using integrated pest management principles that involve assessment and follow-up,” explained Janet Tysick, Lanark County Public Works business manager. “Monitoring and assessing the various areas each year will be important in order to determine the best strategy.”

Wild parsnip is becoming increasingly common and has health hazards associated with it. It contains toxic compounds called furanocoumarins, which can cause serious burns or blisters when the sap is exposed to sunlight. The county conducted roadside weed spraying on 80 kilometres of county roads in 2015 on a trial basis with a licenced contractor.

On March 9, the county invited speakers from the Ontario Vegetation Management Association (OVMA), the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC) and the City of Ottawa to provide information to councillors and staff about the weed, methods to eradicate it and safety precautions. A public session hosted by the Lanark County Stewardship Council is planned for April 30 at the Lanark Civitan Hall.

At the county’s session, Iola Price of OIPC described best practices in Ontario to control wild parsnip and outlined its detrimental effects. “It out-competes native vegetation and crowds out important, low-growing plants. Pollinators may not visit as often as other native species. It can reduce the quality of some agricultural forage crop.”

She said pest management involves many factors and may require several years of work. “Controlling wild parsnip before it becomes established will reduce its impacts on biodiversity, economy and society.” Control measures can include mowing, digging up the plants (for small infestations) or using herbicides (with permits) in the spring before the plants flower.

She emphasized the importance of protective clothing for anyone working near wild parsnip, as well as procedures for washing if exposed to sap. Wild parsnip should not be burned or composted and different municipalities may have disposal rules related to the plant.

Chad Horton, Ontario Vegetation Management Association president, explained the OVMA is a non-profit organization with representatives from every sector of the industry to provide members with a forum for networking and information sharing about environmentally sound, cost effective, industrial and forestry vegetation management practices in Ontario.

He outlined the use of pesticides for public works for the “protection of public health and safety, and to prevent damage to the structural integrity of a public work,” adding herbicide application must be approved in Ontario by Health Canada.

Mr. Horton provided an overview of two herbicides that have been highly effective against the weeds (Clearview and Truvist) and outlined the notice requirements from the provincial Ministry of the Environment, including signage or newspaper and online advertisements.

Steve Ford of the OVMA reviewed equipment cleaning protocols for public works staff and best management practices in Ontario to help minimize the spread of wild parsnip. He noted unintentional introduction can happen with heavy equipment encountering contaminated mud, gravel, water, soil and plant material. “Rhizomes and roots can travel unseen in mud lodged in equipment.”

He said invasive weeds affect forest regeneration, crop yields, seedling establishment, growth rates and trail management. “Trails act as corridors for invasive plants because use and maintenance create disturbed areas. People, pets and vehicles such as ATVs can all bring invasive plants to trails, which increases labour and costs of trail maintenance and reduces biodiversity.”

Allison Wilson, program and project management officer for the City of Ottawa, described their efforts to control the spread of wild parsnip with a mapping exercise, accelerated grass cutting and the application of Clearview in highly infested areas.

“Our results and finding showed mowing is not a successful strategy on its own to decrease infestation,” she said, noting this year they will continue with accelerated mowing and herbicide application in the spring. A communication and awareness campaign will include weekly website updates with a list of spray locations, consistent signage in high infestation areas, and a focus on emphasizing the risk to biodiversity.

Teresa Clowe of the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark District Health Unit noted a commissioned report from Public Health Ontario looked at Clearview and indicated there is more danger to being exposed to the toxins in wild parsnip than to the chemical as long as it is applied properly.

The county’s spraying program will be advertised and residents may request “no spraying” signs. Some local rural municipalities have opted to join in the county’s tender for the program.

The Lanark County Stewardship Council’s workshop will feature representatives from the OIPC, OVMA, the City of Ottawa, the county and the health unit on April 30 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Lanark Civitan Hall, 2144 Pine Grove Road. To register or for more information, contact Karen Ballentine at 613-267-4200 ext. 3192 or kballentine@lanarkcounty.ca.

More information about wild parsnip and other invasive plants can be found at www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca, www.ontario.ca/biodiversity or www.ovma.ca.

Regional health hub being considered

Thursday, April 21, 2016 @ 11:04 AM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

By Howaida Sorour-Roberts – Smiths Falls

There is currently an appetite for a health hub in the region.  At the April 18 town council meeting in Smiths Falls, Richard Schooley, chair of the Smiths Falls and District Hospital updated council on a proposed Health Hub initiative as a way of integrating a variety of health services within communities.

“There is a lot of evidence that we are not integrating our services properly,” said Shcooley.

In a region where the population is both growing and aging there is an urgent need to plan for growth and integration of the various health services as evidenced by the Health Links initiative, which puts patients at the centre of their care needs.

The proposal right now is to set up a committee involving various political bodies, including Lanark County, Frontenac County, Leeds and Grenville and City of Ottawa, Smiths Falls council as well as the healthcare community stakeholders to examine the possibility of creating a health hub.

Local doctor brings internationally recognized PTSD program to Perth

Saturday, February 27, 2016 @ 02:02 PM
posted by admin

By Dianne Pinder-Moss

Randy Hillier has seen firsthand how therapeutic it can be for military veterans to share with one another about their experiences.

In early 2015, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington was on a train ride from Toronto with his son Dillon, a Canadian Forces veteran of Afghanistan who had recently returned from fighting the Islamic State group alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq.

By coincidence, the man sitting directly across from them on the train was a Canadian who had served in the Iraq war with the U.S. Marines. Another Canadian who had also served with the U.S. Marines in the Gulf War in the early 1990s was seated across the aisle.

“We ended up just having a tremendous conversation,” Hiller said in calling the train ride “the most therapeutic three-and-a-half-hours.”

Having been “enlightened” by that train trip and having other members of his extended family who have seen military service, as well as his work with constituents who have family members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the MPP has become one of a local doctor’s biggest supporters in her efforts to bring the internationally recognized Spiritual Process and Resiliency [SPARTA] program to Canada to help military veterans and first responders dealing with PTSD.

“I just felt these people had it right,” Hillier said of the program, spearheaded by Dr. Manuela Joannou to start the first Canadian cohort.

Dr. Joannou is very much aware of PTSD, both personally and professionally.

“I would be lying if I didn’t have cases that profoundly affected me,” she says, adding this is true of any profession “bearing witness to pain and suffering and critical incidents.”

On a professional basis, the Perth area family/emergency physician is familiar with PTSD, both through the counselling she does and her interaction with her colleagues in the emergency department, in addition to first responders like police, firefighters and paramedics.

Dr. Joannou thinks of PTSD as “an operational stress injury for professionals.”

“I don’t like the idea that it is a disorder or a disease,” she said. “I think it is an injury and it needs to be looked at in a different category.”

She says those who care the most are more vulnerable to developing this type of injury.

“They really feel each other’s pain and are empathetic,” she remarked. “If we can intervene and help these people and get them back to their service, they are just such a huge asset.”

Frustrated with the treatments that were being offered, Dr. Joannou started doing research on possible alternatives.

“I felt what was missing was addressing the moral injury, the deep impact to a person’s heart and soul,” she said.

When the physician came across an interview with one of the American founders of SPARTA, “it just blew me away.”

“I realized they were doing it with great success but not a whole lot of recognition,” she said.

Having started off under the name “Save A Warrior,” it’s a very intensive five-and-a-half-day program using holistic and alternative methods.

“It is very experiential,” says Dr. Joannou who spent a week with the main program providers in Malibu in November. “They’re introduced to a lot of different concepts that really ground them and get them to connect to something greater than themselves.”

Along with group therapy discussions, SPARTA participants also engage in meditation, horse-assisted counselling and adventure programs like high ropes.

“Spending time in nature can really be a spiritual experience for anyone,” the physician commented. “With high ropes, we allow people to feel their fear in a very controlled safe environment.”

Likewise, one of the things that interests Dr. Joannou about the horse-assisted counselling component is that it incorporates the Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association (EAGALA) model, training for which she completed 12 years ago.

“I am really excited that it is starting to get some validation and recognition,” she said.

Dr. Joannou is also excited that the first Canadian cohort of SPARTA could take place as early as this spring as she has received a commitment from the providers to come here. Currently, they are in Australia doing the first cohort there. Given the invitation for them to go to that country came from the Australian government is, she says, “just a testimonial to the fact it is being regarded as a worthwhile program.”

All the logistics have been planned out for the first cohort in Canada, which Tay River Reflections hopes to host using its new aqua facility, which is secluded from the rest of the spa and has its own parking area.

“It’s like its own microcosm,” she said. There are approximately five kilometres of walking trails just outside the door of the aqua facility.

She says her dream is to train people to have other facilities across the country.

“My vision is that the program could be adapted to any country in the world,” she said.

Dr. Joannou would also like to be able to oversee the research as to outcomes analysis.

“We would like to have the metrics to show it is a very effective treatment,” she said.

She says she’d like to work with the providers in the U.S. “to see if there are some things we need to tweak to give it a Canadian context” and ensure the curriculum meets the needs of Canadian organizations. As an example of how the program could be Canadianized, because the weather is different here than in Malibu, some winter outdoor activities could be added, she suggested.

Likewise, while SPARTA operates on a complementary and alternative medicine model in the U.S., Dr. Joannou is a strong proponent for utilizing a medical model here in Canada. That way, she says, if a person requires medication or even medical attention, that care would be available.

She says she was very encouraged by the large turnout for a full-day workshop on PTSD at Tay River Reflections on Jan. 13.

“It was just testimonial to how important people feel this topic is right now,” she stated.

For Perth town councillor Jim Graff who, along with Hillier, were among the attendees that day, the event really “opened my eyes” about PTSD.

“First of all, I don’t think society, including myself, is aware of the residual effect for first responders in working in an environment that primarily deals with tragic events,” he said in an email. “For policemen and soldiers in the course of their duty, having to take a life or be witness to indescribable horror is cavalier in the movies but not in real life.”

Having worked in the U.S. towards the end of the Vietnam War, Graff some of the returning veterans. He remembers how little of any help was available from the Department of Veterans Affairs there “and readjusting to civilian life for them was impossible.”

 

“Personally, I think we have a moral obligation to help these folks regain the quality of life that they lost in the performance of their duty,” he said “The SPARTA program I think will do that from Dr. Joannou’s presentation and a film we saw.”

 

With the progress being made in the understanding of mental health issues, Graff believes it’s “a no brainer that we should get behind physicians like Dr. Joannou and encourage government support for this SPARTA program.”

 

The estimated cost to run a cohort, taking into account the providers, lodging, food and the horse component, would be $3,000 per person.

“If we had $36,000, we could have it happen,” she said.

Ideally, Dr. Joannou would like to start off with two cohorts, one for men and one for women. Of course, everything hinges, she says, “on us being able to raise funds.” She’s currently looking at community fundraisers and corporate sponsorships to help fund the program.

The physician is appreciative of the support she’s receiving for SPARTA, particularly from Hillier. Calling the MPP “a champion” of the program, she says he has had “great ideas” and “connected us with political people to make it happen.”

“This is personal for him,” she stated. “He really cares. I just love that about him.”

For his part, Hillier says he has no doubt the SPARTA program will happen and will help out “wherever I can.”

“I think it is powerfully needed,” he said in a phone interview. He says for many with PTSD, it is not just a chemical imbalance they are suffering from that can be treated with medication.

“That’s what the SPARTA program recognizes,” Hillier said. “For many people, it is a moral injury.”

Based on his own experiences with people, the MPP believes there is a need to do something different in treating PTSD from what is currently being done.

“I have felt that what we have been doing in the past has been less than effective,” he stated. “The stats bear it out.”

In 2015, alone, 39 first responders and 12 members of the military died from suicide in Canada. Already, in the first month of this year, three more first responders have been added to those numbers.

A solemn Dr. Joannou doesn’t mince words when she talks about the sense of urgency she feels about the situation.

“I just wish we had this system in place where we could reach out to them a real solution for their suffering,” she said. “It is not a quick fix but it is a support channel to connect into a source that will lead them on the road to healing.”

To date, more than 300 people have completed the SPARTA program since it launched in 2012.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a healthier town

Monday, June 1, 2015 @ 12:06 PM
posted by admin

cycle Lanark map

BY: HOWAIDA SOROUR-ROBERTS

It almost seems there are more fitness facilities in Smiths Falls than there are people. Besides the golf arenas, the walking concourse and trails, the skateboard park and the ball diamonds, parks and beaches there are at least six fitness businesses in addition to the martial arts offerings, and active play facilities.  It all suggests there’s at least some interest in fitness in Smiths Falls.

“I know that I started out with a group of runners and there were eight of us some seven years ago, now there are tons of us and they’ve branched out to form other groups and take up other pursuits,” says Wendy Hillier, Century 21 broker and Spring Fling organizer.

This year the Spring Fling saw 400 registered runners for a Sunday morning run and the majority of runners were from the Smiths Falls and Perth area.

Most of the fitness businesses agree that there seems to be a shift happening in Smiths Falls, towards healthier lifestyles.

“I get a sense that there are more people worried about their long term health outcomes,” says Amanda Fournier, Insanity instructor with CardioFit 4 Life.

Most of the businesses contacted said they were seeing a lot more clients with health issues that they wanted to work on or correct.

“We see quite a few clients who are borderline diabetic or at onset who have been told by their doctors that exercise can reverse or stabilize their condition,” says Mark Leach, co-owner of Good Vibrations Gym.

Several other businesses agreed, they’re seeing more of that group and there are other health related issues that people are now turning to fitness to correct.

“I see people of all different age groups and a lot of people with health issues, like knee problems, back problems and lots of muscular imbalances.  I work with clients who suffer from osteoporosis, and I do see more people seeking better health outcomes,” says Natatia Gemmell, owner and chief instructor at One-on-One Fitness.

It isn’t just exercise that’s driving people.

“I’m seeing people become a lot more aware of the benefits of nutrition and understanding that they can’t outrun a bad diet,” says Caroline Foster, owner and instructor at CardioFit 4 Life.

Although most people agree that weight loss remains the biggest motivator, most of the businesses are noticing that attitudes regarding fitness are changing in Smiths Falls.  There also seems to be a new fitness demographic emerging, and one that is quite encouraging.

“I’m seeing a lot of younger men and older women,” says Kerri Maidment, proprietor of Generation Fitness.  “I don’t see as many middle aged and older men.”

Maidment isn’t the only one who’s noticing that mix.

“Most of the men who come in here want to work independently and they’re usually between 16 and 25 years old, while we see women between 25 and 60 who get involved in more group classes,” says Brian Paquette, owner and chief instructor at Zendragon.

Even the Hub Community Pool is seeing a slight shift in demographics with more young clients coming in, although the clientele still remains more focused on the older, heavier adults with weight bearing concerns.

“I have noticed some younger people starting to come here recently,” says Bonnie Bulmer, chief instructor and Hub Community Pool supervisor.

Then there’s all the fitness events, including Canada’s oldest Triathlon, The New Years’ Run, The Spring Fling Running Thing, the Healthy Living Festival, Paddlefest and this year there’s the Hospital Foundation’s Gauntlet coming up in the fall.

Organizers of the festivals agree the events are growing from year to year.

“This is the third year for the Healthy Living Festival and in our first year we had between three and four thousand, last year we had between four and five thousand and this year the interest just among vendors suggests it will bigger still,” says Tracey Pankow, a Healthy Living organizer.

True the festivals are designed to bring people into Smiths Falls, but the energy that they generate and the town’s exposure to all that health focus seems to be rubbing off on the town because the bulk of participants are still from Smiths Falls and immediate surrounds.

Now that the town of Smiths Falls has also been awarded a Bronze medal for walkability and is adopting United Leeds and Lanark Food Charter, there seems to be unlimited ways for everyone to jump on the bandwagon – at least this one is geared towards longevity.

Is chocolate a health food?

Sunday, February 1, 2015 @ 11:02 AM
posted by admin

By Vickie Dickson

Chocolate is a Health Food.

Do I have your attention?

While researching for this article, I came across this set of instructions for eating chocolate:

When tasting chocolate, let it sit in your mouth to release the primary flavours and aromas. Then, chew it a few times to release the secondary aromas. Let it rest against the roof of your mouth to get the full flavour.

Can you taste it? I can! Time to hit the local Health Food Store for some dark, rich, “therapeutic” chocolate.

To be clear, the chocolate that I’m speaking of is dark- the darker, the better. While it may not have the smooth, creamy texture that makes milk chocolate so popular, it lacks the high sugar content. Also, unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate has not been stripped of its beneficial nutrients. It is an acquired taste, but within a short period of time, your palette will adapt and be completely satisfied with a small serving of dark chocolate. I promise.

There are many health benefits that come from eating dark chocolate, some of which are listed below.

  • It is rich in antioxidants and natural compounds that are good for cardiovascular health. The darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidants (milk chocolate has few, if any, antioxidants).
  • Bacteria in the gut will break down and ferment components in the dark chocolate, turning them into absorbable, anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Like aspirin, dark chocolate has a biochemical effect that reduces the excessive accumulation of platelets, which can cause harmful blood clots.
  • The flavonoids in dark chocolate may help the brain after a stroke by increasing cellular signals that shield nerve cells from damage
  • Raw, dark chocolate prevents oxidative damage to blood vessel linings, which effectively relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
  • The fat (cocoa butter) found in raw, dark chocolate is a healthy fat and as such, helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

Clearly, we are not talking about your mass produced candy bars here. Please leave the Kit-Kats, the Mars Bars and the Oh Henry’s on the shelf.   The chocolate that boasts the most health benefits is the kind that is closest to the natural, raw state of the cocoa bean. The closer to the raw state, the higher the health benefits (like most foods)!

When purchasing raw, dark chocolate, you will find it on the shelf of your local Health Food Store. To receive the greatest health benefits, look for chocolate that is:

  • fair trade
  • organic
  • non GMO
  • high cocoa content
  • low sugar content
  • not artificially sweetened

As with all things, moderation is key.  Two squares of raw, dark chocolate is a serving, not the whole bar!

Happy Valentines Day!

Smiths Falls Waste and Recycling Guide

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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Acupuncture: a traditional approach to health and wellbeing

Friday, September 9, 2016 @ 11:09 AM
posted by admin

By Dr. Natalie Bernicky

So why choose acupuncture as part of your health care? Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing practices in the world, originating in China about 2000-5000 years ago. In 1979 the World Health Organization (WHO) formally endorsed acupuncture, and listed 41 diseases amenable to acupuncture treatment. Since then, the WHO has sponsored worldwide training programs in acupuncture, primarily because of its cost-effectiveness.

More recently, both the Canadian and American military have turned to acupuncture as a means of managing chronic and acute pain in active duty members, where conventional medications and therapies were unsuccessful. To date, the results have been positive with members feeling improvements both physically and mentally. Acupuncture is a safe treatment and has been in the public domain in Ontario for decades.   

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine, and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. Most commonly associated with needles, acupuncture therapy can also include the application of heat, pressure, and electric current or laser light to different points on the body. With traditional Chinese medicine the goal of treatment is to correct imbalances in energy, known as de Qi (the chi) flowing through channels known as meridians.  

Health care practitioners may reference traditional Chinese methods, while combining the scientific, neurological and anatomical approach to the nervous system. This is known as biomedical acupuncture, where the goal of treatment is to cause local tissue activity to stimulate a healing response.

In biomedical acupuncture points are chosen based on the patient’s area of complaint, and combine all aspects of the nervous system. The aim of physical therapy is to stimulate healing via the nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, and controls the function of your entire body. Sterilized, single use, needles are inserted at the selected points, and left in place for 15 to 30 minutes. The practitioner will make adjustments to the needles halfway through treatment to re-engage the nervous system.

During treatment patients may experience a characteristic feeling, particularly in muscular points, known in Chinese literature as the “arrival of Qi” sensation. This sensation usually differs from the feeling of insertion itself, and may be described as a dull ache, tingling, heaviness or warmth. This sensation cannot be reproduced in every acupuncture point, and varies within individuals and between treatments.

Common benefits of acupuncture treatment include: increased mobility or range of motion, decreased pain, improved mood, improved sleep, increased circulation, and increased cell turnover or healing. Patients often report feeling happy and relaxed after an acupuncture treatment.

So why consider acupuncture? There are many reasons that people seek out acupuncture care. Here are some common health conditions the World Health Organization has researched and found acupuncture an effective health intervention: low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, tennis elbow, knee pain, arthritis of the shoulder, sprains, facial pain, allergies (including hay fever) headache, rheumatoid arthritis, nausea, and temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders. If you suspect you have any of the above conditions, speak with your health care provider, there are solutions available for your health and wellbeing.

Dr. Natalie Bernicky is a chiropractor and acupuncture provider at Smiths Falls Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre.

Healthy Living: Meditation for Children

Monday, July 11, 2016 @ 02:07 PM
posted by admin

The Dalai Lama once said, “If every child in the world would be taught meditation we would eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” This quote captures the powerful benefits of this mindful practice for children of any age. A peaceful heart and existence can go a long way in helping children learn some building blocks to assist them in living a balanced life. Meditation helps children feel what it is like to be still and quiet. It helps them tune into their inner wisdom to feel safe and secure in the world while learning ways to breathe and to feel their own breath.  

Some of the many benefits include the following items.

  1. Promotes inner peace and compassion, greatly reducing stress that leads to anxiety. Children learn to become aware of their bodies and their reaction to stressors on an emotional and physical level.  If they feel threatened or scared in their world, they may feel things like headaches, stomach aches and body pain.  Meditation helps bring awareness to different fears so children can learn how to choose different thoughts to slow their minds and the physical symptoms in their bodies.
  2. Improves attention, memory and concentration.  Meditation helps children develop the ability to focus and concentrate improving their ability to control impulsive behaviour.  A study completed at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, Australia revealed that children with ADHD who learned meditation when compared to the control group showed a significant reduction in hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention.  (www.meditationresearch.co.uk)
  3. Builds self-esteem. In a relaxed state, children can tap into both their positive and negative experiences in a day, all of which help them learn and become resilient.  In a world full of technology and distractions at the touch of a screen, children are quickly losing opportunities for free play and learning in silence. Meditation allows them an opportunity to use their natural inherit creativity, which promotes a healthy and strong sense of self-esteem.
  4. Improves sleep.  This can benefit both parent and child!  By learning the art of relaxation children can transition soundly from a state of movement to a state of alpha induced sleep.  Parents can use guided meditations at bedtime as a part of their routines.

Parents often are unaware of what to do to promote meditation in their children.  Start simply and make it part of your family routine.  It can be as simple as sitting in silence for five minutes or taking a silent walk in the forest and building on that.  Become the change you wish to see.  Children copy their parents’ behaviour so if you want to get your children interested in meditation, begin to meditate!  Invite your children to breathe into their bellies and enjoy watching their bellies shrink as they exhale.  Another fun breathing exercise is alternate nostril breathing.  Creating a peaceful space together that incorporates natural calming elements helps encourage regular practice.  Supporting your child’s meditation practice evokes an ability for them to connect with the soft spots of their hearts and bodies.  It allows them a different perspective on their own energy and that of others.  

— Submitted by Maureen Sullivan of Tree of Life Energy Wellness & Amanda Tyler of Wings of Light Wellness

Lanark Health Unit issues heat alert

Monday, June 20, 2016 @ 11:06 AM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

Dr. Paula Stewart, medical officer of Health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, has issued a heat alert because of the high heat and humidity that is in the forecast over the next few days.

Temperatures and humidex levels are expected to be high into early next week. A combination of heat and high humidity can be hazardous to your health.

Conditions during high heat and humidity have the potential to cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and in some cases death. Everyone is at risk; however the following are in greater danger of being affected:

    • elderly people with chronic illness or who take certain medications;
    • infants and preschool children; and
    • people who participate in physical activity or are involved in strenuous outdoor work for prolonged periods.

During a heat alert, the public is strongly encouraged to check on a neighbour or a friend who may have a greater risk of suffering negative health consequences from the heat and humidity.

During very hot weather, everyone should take the following precautions.

    • Do not leave children, adults or pets in parked cars or sleeping outside in direct sunlight.
    • Consult your doctor or pharmacist regarding the side effects of your medications.
    • Drink plenty of water and 100% fruit juices throughout the day, even if you don’t feel very thirsty.
    • Remember to take sips often and not to guzzle your drink.
    • Eat foods that have high water content such as watermelon, grapes and oranges.
    • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
    • Avoid going out in the blazing sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible.
    • Whenever possible go to an air-conditioned room or building, including shopping malls and libraries
    • Wear loose fitting, light clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
    • Keep window shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home.
    • Keep electric lights off or turned down low.
    • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
    • Visit a local pool or beach – check for postings
    •  Avoid eating heavy meals and using your oven.
    • Use fans to draw cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan as a main cooling device during long periods of high heat and humidity.
    • Reduce the use of personal vehicles, stop unnecessary idling; avoid using oil-based paints and glues, pesticides and gas-powered small engines.

      Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can cause health problems. If you experience the following symptoms after exposure to extreme heat seek medical attention immediately:

    • nausea, dizziness, blurred vision;
    • difficulty or rapid breathing;
    • severe headache or confusion;
    • convulsion; and or
    • fever

For more information on how to protect your health during extreme heat, visit the health unit website at www.healthunit.org. For specific health heat-related questions call the Health Action Line at: 1-800-660-5853 or 613-345- 5685. You can also connect with us at LGLHealthunit on Facebook or Twitter.

Healthy Living Festival returns for fourth year

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 @ 09:06 AM
posted by admin

By: April Scott-Clarke

For the fourth year in a row the annual Healthy Living Festival will be taking to the streets of downtown Smiths Falls on June 18.

The Downtown Business Association (DBA) has been planning the event since November and has been able to bring together an interesting lineup of performances and activities for people to enjoy. This year there will be a Little Thing Running Thing for kids in the morning and multiple Hockey Circus Show performances, alongside jugglers and acrobatic acts throughout the day.

And for anyone who likes inflatables, there will be lots at the festival for you to try out! You can walk on water with the water balls, zip down a 75-foot inflatable zip line or do an obstacle course from inside a ball. And new this year, a toddler zone for the littles ones who want to jump.

But the Healthy Living Festival is about more than just performances and activities. There will be a vendor market that people can purchase anything from fresh, grown veggies to yoga cloths. “There is a variety of vendors and hopefully, there is something for everyone,” said Nicola Thomson, DBA coordinator.
The Healthy Living Festival is a tradition now in Smiths Falls, one that started as a way to bring people into the downtown core. “We have a lot of people in the community that are involved in health and wellness,” explained Thomson, making the theme of the festival a natural one.

Last year the festival attracted approximately 8,000 people and Thomson is guessing that just as many, or more, make it out to this year’s event.

The opening ceremonies will kick off at 10 a.m. with everything wrapping up at 4 p.m. And Thomson reminds everyone that the event is free. “We didn’t want to have any barriers for the community,” she said. “This event really wouldn’t be possible without the help of the organizing committee. It’s a volunteer board. And the local businesses have been generous with their sponsorship too.”

For a complete run down on the Healthy Living Festival, schedule of events or registration for the various sports tournaments and fundraisers happening, visit the website at downtownsmithsfalls.ca/healthy-living-festival.  

Lanark County working to fight wild parsnip

Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 08:04 AM
posted by admin

Submitted by the Lanark County municipality

As warm weather approaches, Lanark County and local municipal staff and decision makers have been gathering information on best practices for controlling noxious plants, particularly wild parsnip, while gaining understanding of the risks they pose.

County Council has approved continuing a roadside weed spraying program in 2016 for all county roads for two consecutive years, and then to proceed with biannual spraying of 50 per cent of the road system starting in year three. “We plan to work to eradicate wild parsnip by using integrated pest management principles that involve assessment and follow-up,” explained Janet Tysick, Lanark County Public Works business manager. “Monitoring and assessing the various areas each year will be important in order to determine the best strategy.”

Wild parsnip is becoming increasingly common and has health hazards associated with it. It contains toxic compounds called furanocoumarins, which can cause serious burns or blisters when the sap is exposed to sunlight. The county conducted roadside weed spraying on 80 kilometres of county roads in 2015 on a trial basis with a licenced contractor.

On March 9, the county invited speakers from the Ontario Vegetation Management Association (OVMA), the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC) and the City of Ottawa to provide information to councillors and staff about the weed, methods to eradicate it and safety precautions. A public session hosted by the Lanark County Stewardship Council is planned for April 30 at the Lanark Civitan Hall.

At the county’s session, Iola Price of OIPC described best practices in Ontario to control wild parsnip and outlined its detrimental effects. “It out-competes native vegetation and crowds out important, low-growing plants. Pollinators may not visit as often as other native species. It can reduce the quality of some agricultural forage crop.”

She said pest management involves many factors and may require several years of work. “Controlling wild parsnip before it becomes established will reduce its impacts on biodiversity, economy and society.” Control measures can include mowing, digging up the plants (for small infestations) or using herbicides (with permits) in the spring before the plants flower.

She emphasized the importance of protective clothing for anyone working near wild parsnip, as well as procedures for washing if exposed to sap. Wild parsnip should not be burned or composted and different municipalities may have disposal rules related to the plant.

Chad Horton, Ontario Vegetation Management Association president, explained the OVMA is a non-profit organization with representatives from every sector of the industry to provide members with a forum for networking and information sharing about environmentally sound, cost effective, industrial and forestry vegetation management practices in Ontario.

He outlined the use of pesticides for public works for the “protection of public health and safety, and to prevent damage to the structural integrity of a public work,” adding herbicide application must be approved in Ontario by Health Canada.

Mr. Horton provided an overview of two herbicides that have been highly effective against the weeds (Clearview and Truvist) and outlined the notice requirements from the provincial Ministry of the Environment, including signage or newspaper and online advertisements.

Steve Ford of the OVMA reviewed equipment cleaning protocols for public works staff and best management practices in Ontario to help minimize the spread of wild parsnip. He noted unintentional introduction can happen with heavy equipment encountering contaminated mud, gravel, water, soil and plant material. “Rhizomes and roots can travel unseen in mud lodged in equipment.”

He said invasive weeds affect forest regeneration, crop yields, seedling establishment, growth rates and trail management. “Trails act as corridors for invasive plants because use and maintenance create disturbed areas. People, pets and vehicles such as ATVs can all bring invasive plants to trails, which increases labour and costs of trail maintenance and reduces biodiversity.”

Allison Wilson, program and project management officer for the City of Ottawa, described their efforts to control the spread of wild parsnip with a mapping exercise, accelerated grass cutting and the application of Clearview in highly infested areas.

“Our results and finding showed mowing is not a successful strategy on its own to decrease infestation,” she said, noting this year they will continue with accelerated mowing and herbicide application in the spring. A communication and awareness campaign will include weekly website updates with a list of spray locations, consistent signage in high infestation areas, and a focus on emphasizing the risk to biodiversity.

Teresa Clowe of the Leeds, Grenville, Lanark District Health Unit noted a commissioned report from Public Health Ontario looked at Clearview and indicated there is more danger to being exposed to the toxins in wild parsnip than to the chemical as long as it is applied properly.

The county’s spraying program will be advertised and residents may request “no spraying” signs. Some local rural municipalities have opted to join in the county’s tender for the program.

The Lanark County Stewardship Council’s workshop will feature representatives from the OIPC, OVMA, the City of Ottawa, the county and the health unit on April 30 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Lanark Civitan Hall, 2144 Pine Grove Road. To register or for more information, contact Karen Ballentine at 613-267-4200 ext. 3192 or kballentine@lanarkcounty.ca.

More information about wild parsnip and other invasive plants can be found at www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca, www.ontario.ca/biodiversity or www.ovma.ca.

Regional health hub being considered

Thursday, April 21, 2016 @ 11:04 AM
posted by April Scott-Clarke

By Howaida Sorour-Roberts – Smiths Falls

There is currently an appetite for a health hub in the region.  At the April 18 town council meeting in Smiths Falls, Richard Schooley, chair of the Smiths Falls and District Hospital updated council on a proposed Health Hub initiative as a way of integrating a variety of health services within communities.

“There is a lot of evidence that we are not integrating our services properly,” said Shcooley.

In a region where the population is both growing and aging there is an urgent need to plan for growth and integration of the various health services as evidenced by the Health Links initiative, which puts patients at the centre of their care needs.

The proposal right now is to set up a committee involving various political bodies, including Lanark County, Frontenac County, Leeds and Grenville and City of Ottawa, Smiths Falls council as well as the healthcare community stakeholders to examine the possibility of creating a health hub.

Local doctor brings internationally recognized PTSD program to Perth

Saturday, February 27, 2016 @ 02:02 PM
posted by admin

By Dianne Pinder-Moss

Randy Hillier has seen firsthand how therapeutic it can be for military veterans to share with one another about their experiences.

In early 2015, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington was on a train ride from Toronto with his son Dillon, a Canadian Forces veteran of Afghanistan who had recently returned from fighting the Islamic State group alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq.

By coincidence, the man sitting directly across from them on the train was a Canadian who had served in the Iraq war with the U.S. Marines. Another Canadian who had also served with the U.S. Marines in the Gulf War in the early 1990s was seated across the aisle.

“We ended up just having a tremendous conversation,” Hiller said in calling the train ride “the most therapeutic three-and-a-half-hours.”

Having been “enlightened” by that train trip and having other members of his extended family who have seen military service, as well as his work with constituents who have family members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the MPP has become one of a local doctor’s biggest supporters in her efforts to bring the internationally recognized Spiritual Process and Resiliency [SPARTA] program to Canada to help military veterans and first responders dealing with PTSD.

“I just felt these people had it right,” Hillier said of the program, spearheaded by Dr. Manuela Joannou to start the first Canadian cohort.

Dr. Joannou is very much aware of PTSD, both personally and professionally.

“I would be lying if I didn’t have cases that profoundly affected me,” she says, adding this is true of any profession “bearing witness to pain and suffering and critical incidents.”

On a professional basis, the Perth area family/emergency physician is familiar with PTSD, both through the counselling she does and her interaction with her colleagues in the emergency department, in addition to first responders like police, firefighters and paramedics.

Dr. Joannou thinks of PTSD as “an operational stress injury for professionals.”

“I don’t like the idea that it is a disorder or a disease,” she said. “I think it is an injury and it needs to be looked at in a different category.”

She says those who care the most are more vulnerable to developing this type of injury.

“They really feel each other’s pain and are empathetic,” she remarked. “If we can intervene and help these people and get them back to their service, they are just such a huge asset.”

Frustrated with the treatments that were being offered, Dr. Joannou started doing research on possible alternatives.

“I felt what was missing was addressing the moral injury, the deep impact to a person’s heart and soul,” she said.

When the physician came across an interview with one of the American founders of SPARTA, “it just blew me away.”

“I realized they were doing it with great success but not a whole lot of recognition,” she said.

Having started off under the name “Save A Warrior,” it’s a very intensive five-and-a-half-day program using holistic and alternative methods.

“It is very experiential,” says Dr. Joannou who spent a week with the main program providers in Malibu in November. “They’re introduced to a lot of different concepts that really ground them and get them to connect to something greater than themselves.”

Along with group therapy discussions, SPARTA participants also engage in meditation, horse-assisted counselling and adventure programs like high ropes.

“Spending time in nature can really be a spiritual experience for anyone,” the physician commented. “With high ropes, we allow people to feel their fear in a very controlled safe environment.”

Likewise, one of the things that interests Dr. Joannou about the horse-assisted counselling component is that it incorporates the Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association (EAGALA) model, training for which she completed 12 years ago.

“I am really excited that it is starting to get some validation and recognition,” she said.

Dr. Joannou is also excited that the first Canadian cohort of SPARTA could take place as early as this spring as she has received a commitment from the providers to come here. Currently, they are in Australia doing the first cohort there. Given the invitation for them to go to that country came from the Australian government is, she says, “just a testimonial to the fact it is being regarded as a worthwhile program.”

All the logistics have been planned out for the first cohort in Canada, which Tay River Reflections hopes to host using its new aqua facility, which is secluded from the rest of the spa and has its own parking area.

“It’s like its own microcosm,” she said. There are approximately five kilometres of walking trails just outside the door of the aqua facility.

She says her dream is to train people to have other facilities across the country.

“My vision is that the program could be adapted to any country in the world,” she said.

Dr. Joannou would also like to be able to oversee the research as to outcomes analysis.

“We would like to have the metrics to show it is a very effective treatment,” she said.

She says she’d like to work with the providers in the U.S. “to see if there are some things we need to tweak to give it a Canadian context” and ensure the curriculum meets the needs of Canadian organizations. As an example of how the program could be Canadianized, because the weather is different here than in Malibu, some winter outdoor activities could be added, she suggested.

Likewise, while SPARTA operates on a complementary and alternative medicine model in the U.S., Dr. Joannou is a strong proponent for utilizing a medical model here in Canada. That way, she says, if a person requires medication or even medical attention, that care would be available.

She says she was very encouraged by the large turnout for a full-day workshop on PTSD at Tay River Reflections on Jan. 13.

“It was just testimonial to how important people feel this topic is right now,” she stated.

For Perth town councillor Jim Graff who, along with Hillier, were among the attendees that day, the event really “opened my eyes” about PTSD.

“First of all, I don’t think society, including myself, is aware of the residual effect for first responders in working in an environment that primarily deals with tragic events,” he said in an email. “For policemen and soldiers in the course of their duty, having to take a life or be witness to indescribable horror is cavalier in the movies but not in real life.”

Having worked in the U.S. towards the end of the Vietnam War, Graff some of the returning veterans. He remembers how little of any help was available from the Department of Veterans Affairs there “and readjusting to civilian life for them was impossible.”

 

“Personally, I think we have a moral obligation to help these folks regain the quality of life that they lost in the performance of their duty,” he said “The SPARTA program I think will do that from Dr. Joannou’s presentation and a film we saw.”

 

With the progress being made in the understanding of mental health issues, Graff believes it’s “a no brainer that we should get behind physicians like Dr. Joannou and encourage government support for this SPARTA program.”

 

The estimated cost to run a cohort, taking into account the providers, lodging, food and the horse component, would be $3,000 per person.

“If we had $36,000, we could have it happen,” she said.

Ideally, Dr. Joannou would like to start off with two cohorts, one for men and one for women. Of course, everything hinges, she says, “on us being able to raise funds.” She’s currently looking at community fundraisers and corporate sponsorships to help fund the program.

The physician is appreciative of the support she’s receiving for SPARTA, particularly from Hillier. Calling the MPP “a champion” of the program, she says he has had “great ideas” and “connected us with political people to make it happen.”

“This is personal for him,” she stated. “He really cares. I just love that about him.”

For his part, Hillier says he has no doubt the SPARTA program will happen and will help out “wherever I can.”

“I think it is powerfully needed,” he said in a phone interview. He says for many with PTSD, it is not just a chemical imbalance they are suffering from that can be treated with medication.

“That’s what the SPARTA program recognizes,” Hillier said. “For many people, it is a moral injury.”

Based on his own experiences with people, the MPP believes there is a need to do something different in treating PTSD from what is currently being done.

“I have felt that what we have been doing in the past has been less than effective,” he stated. “The stats bear it out.”

In 2015, alone, 39 first responders and 12 members of the military died from suicide in Canada. Already, in the first month of this year, three more first responders have been added to those numbers.

A solemn Dr. Joannou doesn’t mince words when she talks about the sense of urgency she feels about the situation.

“I just wish we had this system in place where we could reach out to them a real solution for their suffering,” she said. “It is not a quick fix but it is a support channel to connect into a source that will lead them on the road to healing.”

To date, more than 300 people have completed the SPARTA program since it launched in 2012.

Anecdotal evidence suggests a healthier town

Monday, June 1, 2015 @ 12:06 PM
posted by admin

cycle Lanark map

BY: HOWAIDA SOROUR-ROBERTS

It almost seems there are more fitness facilities in Smiths Falls than there are people. Besides the golf arenas, the walking concourse and trails, the skateboard park and the ball diamonds, parks and beaches there are at least six fitness businesses in addition to the martial arts offerings, and active play facilities.  It all suggests there’s at least some interest in fitness in Smiths Falls.

“I know that I started out with a group of runners and there were eight of us some seven years ago, now there are tons of us and they’ve branched out to form other groups and take up other pursuits,” says Wendy Hillier, Century 21 broker and Spring Fling organizer.

This year the Spring Fling saw 400 registered runners for a Sunday morning run and the majority of runners were from the Smiths Falls and Perth area.

Most of the fitness businesses agree that there seems to be a shift happening in Smiths Falls, towards healthier lifestyles.

“I get a sense that there are more people worried about their long term health outcomes,” says Amanda Fournier, Insanity instructor with CardioFit 4 Life.

Most of the businesses contacted said they were seeing a lot more clients with health issues that they wanted to work on or correct.

“We see quite a few clients who are borderline diabetic or at onset who have been told by their doctors that exercise can reverse or stabilize their condition,” says Mark Leach, co-owner of Good Vibrations Gym.

Several other businesses agreed, they’re seeing more of that group and there are other health related issues that people are now turning to fitness to correct.

“I see people of all different age groups and a lot of people with health issues, like knee problems, back problems and lots of muscular imbalances.  I work with clients who suffer from osteoporosis, and I do see more people seeking better health outcomes,” says Natatia Gemmell, owner and chief instructor at One-on-One Fitness.

It isn’t just exercise that’s driving people.

“I’m seeing people become a lot more aware of the benefits of nutrition and understanding that they can’t outrun a bad diet,” says Caroline Foster, owner and instructor at CardioFit 4 Life.

Although most people agree that weight loss remains the biggest motivator, most of the businesses are noticing that attitudes regarding fitness are changing in Smiths Falls.  There also seems to be a new fitness demographic emerging, and one that is quite encouraging.

“I’m seeing a lot of younger men and older women,” says Kerri Maidment, proprietor of Generation Fitness.  “I don’t see as many middle aged and older men.”

Maidment isn’t the only one who’s noticing that mix.

“Most of the men who come in here want to work independently and they’re usually between 16 and 25 years old, while we see women between 25 and 60 who get involved in more group classes,” says Brian Paquette, owner and chief instructor at Zendragon.

Even the Hub Community Pool is seeing a slight shift in demographics with more young clients coming in, although the clientele still remains more focused on the older, heavier adults with weight bearing concerns.

“I have noticed some younger people starting to come here recently,” says Bonnie Bulmer, chief instructor and Hub Community Pool supervisor.

Then there’s all the fitness events, including Canada’s oldest Triathlon, The New Years’ Run, The Spring Fling Running Thing, the Healthy Living Festival, Paddlefest and this year there’s the Hospital Foundation’s Gauntlet coming up in the fall.

Organizers of the festivals agree the events are growing from year to year.

“This is the third year for the Healthy Living Festival and in our first year we had between three and four thousand, last year we had between four and five thousand and this year the interest just among vendors suggests it will bigger still,” says Tracey Pankow, a Healthy Living organizer.

True the festivals are designed to bring people into Smiths Falls, but the energy that they generate and the town’s exposure to all that health focus seems to be rubbing off on the town because the bulk of participants are still from Smiths Falls and immediate surrounds.

Now that the town of Smiths Falls has also been awarded a Bronze medal for walkability and is adopting United Leeds and Lanark Food Charter, there seems to be unlimited ways for everyone to jump on the bandwagon – at least this one is geared towards longevity.

Is chocolate a health food?

Sunday, February 1, 2015 @ 11:02 AM
posted by admin

By Vickie Dickson

Chocolate is a Health Food.

Do I have your attention?

While researching for this article, I came across this set of instructions for eating chocolate:

When tasting chocolate, let it sit in your mouth to release the primary flavours and aromas. Then, chew it a few times to release the secondary aromas. Let it rest against the roof of your mouth to get the full flavour.

Can you taste it? I can! Time to hit the local Health Food Store for some dark, rich, “therapeutic” chocolate.

To be clear, the chocolate that I’m speaking of is dark- the darker, the better. While it may not have the smooth, creamy texture that makes milk chocolate so popular, it lacks the high sugar content. Also, unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate has not been stripped of its beneficial nutrients. It is an acquired taste, but within a short period of time, your palette will adapt and be completely satisfied with a small serving of dark chocolate. I promise.

There are many health benefits that come from eating dark chocolate, some of which are listed below.

  • It is rich in antioxidants and natural compounds that are good for cardiovascular health. The darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidants (milk chocolate has few, if any, antioxidants).
  • Bacteria in the gut will break down and ferment components in the dark chocolate, turning them into absorbable, anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Like aspirin, dark chocolate has a biochemical effect that reduces the excessive accumulation of platelets, which can cause harmful blood clots.
  • The flavonoids in dark chocolate may help the brain after a stroke by increasing cellular signals that shield nerve cells from damage
  • Raw, dark chocolate prevents oxidative damage to blood vessel linings, which effectively relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
  • The fat (cocoa butter) found in raw, dark chocolate is a healthy fat and as such, helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.

Clearly, we are not talking about your mass produced candy bars here. Please leave the Kit-Kats, the Mars Bars and the Oh Henry’s on the shelf.   The chocolate that boasts the most health benefits is the kind that is closest to the natural, raw state of the cocoa bean. The closer to the raw state, the higher the health benefits (like most foods)!

When purchasing raw, dark chocolate, you will find it on the shelf of your local Health Food Store. To receive the greatest health benefits, look for chocolate that is:

  • fair trade
  • organic
  • non GMO
  • high cocoa content
  • low sugar content
  • not artificially sweetened

As with all things, moderation is key.  Two squares of raw, dark chocolate is a serving, not the whole bar!

Happy Valentines Day!

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