Health promotion: Advocating a healthy lifestyle program

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There is a quick comment when asked about living a healthy lifestyle every day no matter what age you are; the answer is, it’s not easy? Because we all know that staying well and living the perfect healthy lifestyle in today’s world is difficult to achieve. The pace we allow ourselves and others to dictate can lead us to a never ending pursuit of the proper weight level and daily activity routine our bodies require.

At Windsor Regional Hospital, we have advocated a healthy lifestyle program for our staff, physicians and volunteers for several years, setting an example that we must be fit and healthy ourselves in order to advocate on behalf of the patients and families we serve.

When our President and CEO, David Musyj first accepted the job, he took a hard look in the mirror and said, how can I be an example to staff when I myself should be in better shape in order to be a role model toward a proactive healthy lifestyle?  He immediately challenged himself and enlisted in a fitness program, making a weekly commitment to get in shape. He led others to follow in his footsteps with a number of staff making the same commitment.

“Satisfied staff will result in satisfied patients and we need to help our staff take care of themselves so that they can take care of others.” says David Musyj, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital.

One of the first things he initiated was the creation of a ‘Genius Lab’, giving staff opportunities to submit ideas on-line that would benefit the hospital, its patients, families and staff.  One of the first ideas submitted from a staff member was to establish a fitness gym right in the hospital that would give employees  the motivation to begin exercising before or after their shift.   With the assistance of donors, two modern, fully equipped fitness centres were established at the campuses of Windsor Regional Hospital and the results have paid off.  Interested staff provide an annual fee that keep the gyms up to date and available on a 24-hour basis.

A Healthy Lifestyle Program was established and managed by a staff committee who came up with incentives that would benefit and reward employees for participating.  They made a commitment that the path to a healthier workplace starts with the recognition that vital employees and a healthy, productive workplace culture contribute to the core business of our hospital organization.

The Healthy Lifestyle Committee was committed to promote, educate and encourage healthier lifestyle choices for workplace, social and environmental well-being.  They were dedicated to maintaining programs that encouraged healthier living habits and promoting improved lifestyle choices which in turn, would lead to organizational productivity and healthier employees.

The Healthy Lifestyle Program developed goals and objectives by which staff could endorse.  It assessed employee needs and health risks; developed programs that would achieve measurable results; developed an effective communication and promotion strategy; delivered programs that would assist employees to build healthier habits, healthier choices and change modifiable lifestyle behaviors. And, it track and evaluate results and communicated the findings to the staff. It achieved on all counts where today, a variety of healthy lifestyle activities can be found on Windsor Regional Hospital’s website (www.wrh.on.ca).

An average year will begin with themes for each month, starting with January focusing on New Year resolutions and losing weight, including developing new healthy habits and breaking bad ones.  February being Heart Month, smoking cessation and a start-steady exercise program focused on monitoring a acceptable walking and running heart rate routine.  March bring on a spring cleaning theme, de-cluttering and organizing your home and your life in a healthy way; April offers a fresh start at physical activity outdoors, continuing into May with a top ten for fat burning.  June is vacation planning time which means more physical activity with the family.  July and August advocates safe sun health.  When September rolls around and back to school, reducing kid stress through self improvement exercises is recommended.  October welcomes healthy after school snacks and a focus on women’s health.  November moves to men’s health and cold and flu fighting activities.  And December brings on work life balance as part of the busy holiday season and avoidance of overeating.

Throughout the months just reviewed, several other activities are scheduled for staff including The Biggest Loser promotion offering hospital departments weight loss challenges with rewards for top achievers. Survival Boot Camp is a popular fitness program among staff where a combination of cardio and strength training is provided by trained professionals with incentives for achieving personal goals. We were one of many to host the 10,000 Steps to 10,000 Pounds challenge and participate in the Walk Across Canada Challenge.

Some of the most popular activities that are offered to staff include Weight Watchers, Yoga Relaxation and Power Pilates. Other proactive opportunities include Self Defense Training and Workplace Violence Prevention, Sound Sleep Strategies, Quality Family Time, Self-Confidence (Learn To Love Yourself Again), Addictions (Help Yourself or Someone You Love) or How to Slash Your Grocery Bill (Healthy Choices) and Positive Parenting. Lunch & Learn sessions help staff with sticking to an exercise; 20 minutes workouts that anyone can do; the ultimate healthy back program; exercise routines that can be done anywhere; best exercises to get rid of back fat and decrease waist lines; best exercises to show off arms and shoulders and; great exercises to loosen up and feel great!

Windsor Regional Hospital’s Healthy Lifestyle Program offers staff reduced rates at some of the areas top fitness studios.  Through Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation, several fundraising initiatives advocate walking and running events that will soon include a Warrior Weekend.
Windsor Regional Hospital has been recognized for several years by the local Health Action Windsor- Essex and Windsor Essex Health Unit for being awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold Level Workplace Wellness Awards.