The Strides to Better Health program is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month with a potluck dinner and some words from providers and clients on the program’s past, where they hope to see it go in the future and how it has impacted the lives of those who participate.
Strides is a multi-week program that brings together education and exercise for people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
“We come in and we join the program where we exercise three times a week and then we have that education component,” said Jennifer Jewell, nurse educator for Prairie North Health Region. “And the education usually covers things from healthy eating, stress management, arthritis, medication and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”
Jewell says the program likely started in Saskatoon before catching on in North Battleford and with its success, spread to Lloydminster and Meadow Lake. She says much of Strides’ popularity comes from the level of security clients gain from being better educated on their conditions.
Doctors typically only tell their patients so much regarding their medications and recommended diets, so the Strides program steps in to fill those knowledge gaps.
“When we talk about heart disease and diabetes, often times we’ll be diagnosed and the doctor will explain it a wee bit,” said Jewell. “He’ll say, ‘This is what it is, I want you to take these medications,’ then you’re sent on your way. What I like about the Strides program is this is kind of the safe place you come to start asking questions about your medications.”
The program can also refer clients to other services they may not know about and offers a social setting where people can meet others with similar conditions. After being diagnosed with a condition, patients can become depressed or worried about whether or not they’re taking proper care of themselves. Strides offers a “medically supervised safe zone” where people can talk to each other, learn how to exercise and figure out the best diets for their given conditions.
Anna Koskimaki, who has been taking part in Strides with her husband for almost two years, heard about the program at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton and highly recommends it to anyone who is interested.
“It’s excellent. It really has helped (my husband) because he wouldn’t have gone out and walked and done the stuff he was supposed to do without the help from the Strides people,” she said. “Another good part about it is the socializing. You’re in an environment where you’ve got other people with the same chronic conditions that you have got and that’s the nicest part about it. There’s lots of support.”
Anyone interested in signing up can speak with their doctor or call Jewell at 306-820-6262.