Walk of Life to raise money for fitLife program

Herald file photo. Participants in the 2017 Walk of Life warm up.

A program that has been operating in the area for 22 years is holding its seventh annual fundraising walk this Saturday.

fitLife is a program aimed at helping patients with heart, lung and other chronic illnesses. It includes exercise programs three days a week, along with education about stress management, nutrition, medications and risk factors.

FitLife runs cardiac rehabilitation for those with angina, heart attack, bypass surgery, angioplasty, stent procedures, valve surgery or pacemakers; pulmonary rehabilitation available to those with asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), sarcoidosis, cystic fibrosis or lung transplant; and risk management for those with high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

One patient who has gone through the program is Jack McDonald. He said having access to experts to help plan and guide recovery is one of the most important benefits of the program.

“The staff members are very professional,” said McDonald in a news release.

“You don’t get to use the equipment until they show you how to use it so you don’t overexert yourself. I felt much better after I started the program.”

McDonald, who has stents in his heart, was active three days a week with the program at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse. Last year, Prince Albert’s fitLife program averaged 112 participants every day the gym ran across the three groups. On average, about 64 cardiac patients attended each class.

According to Robin Gyoerick, an exercise therapist with the program, said most who come through the program show improvement in some area of their life, “whether it just be functional — before they couldn’t walk a block and can now walk a mile, or just with heir daily activities, especially for people with lung disease.

“Maybe they had a hard time just even getting dressed, and now they’ve improved their function a little bit more so they can do it with a little more ease.”

Gyoerick said people have come through the program who, after surgery, could barely do anything, and have professed to the point where they can go back tow work feeling well.

So far, some people have registered and donations are coming in, but Gyoerick would really like to see more people come out and participate. The event, which will also feature games and a barbecue, is open to everyone to participate.

“My biggest goal is to get over 100 people to come to the walk, but it’s very nice to see that people are starting to recognize what the fitLife program is,” she said.

The Walk of Life is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the fieldhouse. While the walk is a national event put on by the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, any funds raised by the local walk will go to the local fitLife program.