Letter to the Editor: Take a walk to healthy living

As a nurse I am aware of an epidemic in diabetes, heart disease and depression here in Prince Rupert...


My name is Charles Justice, I’m a retired nurse.

As a nurse I am aware of an epidemic in diabetes, heart disease and depression here in Prince Rupert, something that we unfortunately share with many other parts of the developed world.

We have a very expensive health system that is designed to treat illnesses once they develop, but it is not at all designed to prevent them. But prevention is actually easier and far less expensive than treatment and it helps maintain our quality of life. So, why isn’t the health system focusing on it?

The cause of many of these chronic illnesses is inactivity. We don’t need doctors and nurses to help us become more active, we can take action ourselves. The remedy for inactivity is activity. And the easiest and most effective form of activity is walking. True, we used to walk more in order to get around, but this is nothing new. What is new is that we now use automobiles a lot and sit for long periods at home and at work.

It’s a well known fact that walking for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can be enough exercise to keep yourself mentally and physically fit.  That’s all it takes. (Sure there are other exercises out there: running, weight-lifting, etc., but every one of them has drawbacks.) Out of all the rest, walking is the safest; it’s low impact and much less likely to cause injury than running or cycling; It’s easy to do, requiring little or no equipment and it is appropriate for all ages. It is probably the most consistent way to stay fit throughout our whole lifetime.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some felt that walking is just a waste of time. They might believe that it’s better to be safe and comfortable sitting in a car than walking in the outdoors. But consider that when we walk we get to see the world around us; the people walking by, our neighbours, the gardens, trees; we get to listen to the ravens and other birds; we also get to breathe fresh air, and to see the amazing view of the sea and mountains from various locations in town. Walking actually increases our sense of place and our connection to nature.

The pleasures of walking are many, A brisk walk will improve your mood. Along the way, stopping to chat with an acquaintance can bring back memories or stir inspirations to do something new. Walking is a great way to meditate, to think deep thoughts, or just to make you feel better about yourself. It works faster than Prozac, with mood improvements in minutes and unlike Prozac, all the side effects are beneficial.

A walkable community is a safer and attractive community. It brings people outside and makes them more visible. More people want to live in places where walking is a viable option. The City of Prince Rupert has an important role in facilitating walking through enforcement of existing bylaws and by improving the sidewalks and making them safer (something that would go a long way in making this city attractive). Homeowners also share responsibility in keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice.

Mayor Lee Brain could set an example by walking to work. That’s what previous mayors Peter Lester and Herb Pond did and it helped both of them to get a better sense of people’s concerns. There is no other activity that could improve the health of the community more effectively than walking.

There is no easier way to build and maintain physical fitness and improve your quality of life than by walking. By walking with our children to and from school we can set an example and get them started on a lifetime habit that promotes physical fitness and good health.

Please have a look at my facebook page called Rupertwalks. .

Charles Justice

Prince Rupert


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