What does someone who’s the picture of health look like to you? Chances are this person works out regularly, makes healthy eating choices and exudes positive energy. Does your vision of health include a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy, a teen restricted to a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury or a former smoker recovering from a heart attack?
Mine does, and here’s why. Every day at the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford I see people living with a wide variety of chronic health issues who make time for exercise as a way to improve their ealth, manage their condition and enhance their quality of life.
It’s all part of LiveWell – a broad selection of exercise and education programs offered through a unique partnership between the YMCA, Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University. This partnership delivers a new model of health care, bringing health professionals from Hamilton Health Sciences to the YMCA, where they work with specially-trained Y staff to deliver programming for people living with a wide range of health issues. Exercise is supervised and education sessions focus on clients’ specific health conditions. McMaster supports research and the training of future health professionals through student placements.
The best-known of our Live Well offerings is CanWell, a program for adults with any type of cancer at any stage. Can Well has been featured in media including The Hamilton Spectator, CHCH TV, The Toronto Star and will soon appear on Global TV News.
LiveWell’s other programs are also vital to many people in our community living with chronic health issues. They are: Fit for Function, for stroke survivors; In Motion, for adults with arthritis or osteoporosis (In Motion is also ideal for anyone preparing for or recovering from joint replacement surgery); Healthy Hearts, a cardiac rehabilitation program for adults who are classified as low risk or who have completed a cardiac rehab program; Mobility Plus, an exercise program for people with a spinal cord injury or mobility challenges and YFit4U, an exercise program for children ages 10 and older with mild to moderate cognitive and/or physical disabilities.
These programs are 12 weeks long, after which participants may choose to continue in the program or transition into other YMCA programs. Regular exercise helps clients manage their condition and improve their quality of life by building strength and endurance. Clients who continue with the Y also stay in touch with the team that delivers programming, for ongoing moral support and monitoring. Connecting with other participants who have similar conditions helps create strong social supports which develop into friendships.
Working out is also a great mental health boost for clients, because it helps them feel in control of their physical health. Many people tell me that they love coming to the YMCA because it makes them `feel normal’ – just like any other member of the community coming to the Y to swim, take a fitness class or work out. We encourage people to participate as a family, since spouses and children can swim, use the fitness centre or play a game of basketball while their loved one is in programming.
All LiveWell programs are included with a YMCA membership and financial assistance may be provided.
If you think LiveWell can help improve your quality of life, I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at 905-929-7273 or genevieve_hladyshºº@ymca.ca