Unless you have been living under a rock, you are fully aware that Canada’s health care system is broken. More than one simple break, the problem is akin to a car window that shatters into thousands of tiny pieces on impact. Many problems that require many steps to fix all of the breaks. It is going to take years to dig us out of this hole, and it will require policy changes across the spectrum. I liken it to a giant cross-country jigsaw puzzle that can only be completed in small steps.
Today, I want to address one potential component regarding the shortage of family doctors in Canada. The adoption of multidisciplinary health care teams, also known as team-based care, is vital to the future viability of our health care system.
When it comes to team-based care, a key component must be the inclusion of exercise professionals on these teams. The World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for premature death:
"Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being.” (WHO guidelines on physical activity)
In fact, the Ontario Kinesiology Association has been advocating for the inclusion of exercise-specific professionals to be included on all primary care teams in the province:
"Exercise and physical activity are recognized unequivocally as among the most effective means to both prevent and manage chronic disease. Managing these illnesses is critical: Chronic conditions such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease are the leading cause of death in Ontario. The cost of supporting individuals with chronic disease is estimated to be 55% of total direct and indirect health costs.”
Indeed, a Canadian study demonstrated that patients want individualized physical activity recommendations from their primary care physicians. If team-based care is to be successful, not only should dieticians be added to these teams, but also exercise professionals. Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise would go a long way to reducing the burden of chronic disease on Canadians and our health care system.
If you’ve been following my Facebook author page, you may be aware that I’ve embarked on my first author collaboration. If not, keep reading to learn more.
Earlier this year, I met Shawna Thibodeau at a women’s networking event. Shawna runs a grassroots initiative called Shawna’s Outreach. She accepts donations from all over the city and creates outreach bags to distribute to people living on the street.
At the event, Shawna received a generous cash donation to support her outreach work. Attendees were also invited to see how they could support in their own way, which leads us to today.
My idea was to write a book—you know, give back through writing. The book is called Shawna's Outreach: When we each give a little, a lot gets done. Shawna and I are co-authors on this book, and we’re excited to let you know that it will be available for sale in a few months’ time.
I have donated my time and services to write the book, but I have also recruited a volunteer editorial team. Everyone involved in producing this book is donating their time and services, so that all royalties can directly benefit Shawna's Outreach.
The book will cover who Shawna is, how Shawna’s Outreach began, who donates to and who benefits from Shawna’s Outreach, and much more. We are telling the story of the homelessness crisis in Ottawa with hope and humour—in effort to demonstrate that every small act of kindness and sharing is important.
As we look towards a fall book launch, we hope those of you in Ottawa will join us. If you are outside the Ottawa area and would like to donate directly to Shawna’s Outreach, please get in touch via email: email@example.com. You can also follow Shawna's Outreach on Facebook.
Amanda Sterczyk is an international author, Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor.