COLUMN: Trying to take a preventative approach

Nursing student promotes healthy lifestyle as part of regular routine.

Caitlin Marynowski

Nelson Star Contributor

The proposed health care cuts in Kaslo are undoubtedly frightening for some. But with Thanksgiving recently come and gone, I have been reflecting on why I am thankful for living in the Kootenays and what it means for our health and health care.

Let’s take a moment to think about what health care really is.

As much as we need access to doctors, nurses, hospitals, walk-in clinics and emergency rooms when we are ill or injured, an essential and often overlooked part of our health care system is health promotion.

This means instead of waiting until people are sick to provide care, actions can be taken to prevent people from getting sick in the first place.

For example, preventable health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke, depression, mood disorders and disruptive sleep patterns can all be combatted with one simple action — exercise. While our government does take some responsibility for health promotion, it is often left up to the individual — and that is why I am thankful for living in the Kootenays.

We are extremely privileged to live in an area where we have four absolutely amazing seasons in which we can promote our own health and prevent chronic disease. The possibilities for exercise here are unlimited and located in a stunning environment consisting of things some people only read about in magazines.

I’ll say it again — that is why I am thankful for living in the Kootenays.

Fall is not only a beautiful season, but it is one of the best times for mountain biking. The trails are in great condition, it’s not too hot to push or pedal up to Mountain Station, and let’s be honest, it helps pass the time when we begin getting antsy about winter. In addition to downhill, road biking gives us another amazing way to enjoy the area. There are plenty of hikes and walking trails that offer remarkable views of fall colours.

As the days get shorter and the snow begins to fall, we enter into a winter wonderland. Not only is there one outstanding ski hill, but we have two just over an hour from one another. We have opportunities to access amazing ski touring. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there is also cross-country skiing, skating, and snowshoeing.

When the snow begins to melt in the spring and new buds begin to blossom, we are once again able to explore the astounding hikes in the area and the bikes come out for their maiden voyage of the year.

Heading into summer, our options for hiking and biking expand, the waters warm and we gain access to numerous lakes and rivers in which we can swim, kayak, canoe, row, wake surf, water ski, wakeboard and paddle board. When it begins to cool off again and we head back into fall, we get to do it all over again.

It is true, living here we may not have access to the same health care we might otherwise have living in a large urban centre, but ask any number of people living in the Kootenays why they are here.

They live here for the lifestyle; a lifestyle that lets us enjoy many amazing outdoor adventures and keeps us out of the hospital at the same time, for the most part. So at a time when healthcare in the Kootenays might seem uncertain, let’s be thankful that we live in a place where promoting our health is enjoyable, accessible, and the reason many of us are here. There is no doubt that we need access to health care, but preventing disease can be as simple as getting out and enjoying the beautiful area in which we live.

 

— Caitlin Marynowski is a fourth year nursing student at Selkirk College – University of Victoria