Campaign promotes benefits of physical activity
Almost 100 cyclists ride into Victoria Park in Truro on Tuesday afternoon to deliver a message about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. A core group of about 30 riders, who are pedalling across the province for the sixth annual Heartland Tour, were joined by more than 60 local cyclists for this leg of the event. HARRY SULLIVAN TRURO DAILY NEWS
TRURO - Greg Barkhouse figures it may just be time to give a bit more thought to his family's eating habits and lifestyle.
After stopping by Victoria Park with his two daughters on Tuesday afternoon to take in the festivities associated with the Heartland Tour, the Valley resident's planned day of fun in the sun turned out to be an educational endeavour as well.
"I got a lot of literature here that I picked up. I learned that it's important to eat well, exercise, check your blood pressure and everything regularly and that there's different guidelines for different ages as well," he said.
And Barkhouse said he plans to put that knowledge to good use.
"That's why I got this information, I'm hoping to change a few things up."
Precisely the response that organizers of the Heartland Tour had hoped to hear.
Now into its sixth year, the tour is a public awareness campaign organized by Dr. Nicholas Giacomantonio, a cardiologist with the QE II Health Science Centre in Halifax, that involves touring the province on bicycles to promote the benefits of physical activity as a preventative medicine.
Giacomantonio and a core group of 30 cyclists from across Nova Scotia were joined on the Colchester County leg of the tour by about 65 other local cyclists who completed their segment at Victoria Park.
Participants at the park were treated to nutritious snacks and provided with health tips and other medical information as well as having the opportunity to get their blood pressure checked.
"The reason we're doing this is because of the excess burden of risk for disease and the need to change that trajectory of risk," Giacomantonio told the crowd of more than 200 people.
"One of the ways to do that is with physical activity and this heartland tour, as a cycling event, is one of those expressions. It's not just bicycles, it's any form of physical activity."
Dr. Manoj Vohra, the vice-president of medicine for the Colchester East Hants Health Authority, echoed those remarks.
"From our point of view, this is amazing," Vohra said of the event.
"The Heartland Tour is what we call leaders by example," he said, adding that the real educational benefit will be borne out by the children in attendance.
"But let's remember again that this is about healthy lifestyles and it's about all of these young faces that we have here. Those are the faces that will make the difference," he said.
"The prevention of disease is a lot more important than actually when we get there (to a diagnosis)," Vohra said. "If we can prevent the disease from happening we'll be able to do a lot more.
"So the message we give forth is, let's start taking responsibility for some of the choices we make, for our children as well as ourselves and hopefully as we go forward with active, healthy lifestyles, with healthy eating habits, what we will be able to do is start a perpetual cycle for generations and generations to make sure we can have a safe and healthy future."