Swift Current residents have an opportunity to start the new year in an active way with healthy habits when they participate in the 8th annual Wellness Challenge.
This free-of-charge activity is provided by the City of Swift Current Community Services Division to promote healthy lifestyles among residents.
Val Choo-Foo, the In Motion community facilitator at the City of Swift Current, said the challenge fits in well with the goal of Community Services to promote healthy lifestyles in the community.
“We already offer lots of different programs in the city where people can be a part of, whether it’s a walking program that we have going on or whether it’s bike safety,” she mentioned. “We’re already looking at the health and wellbeing of the community members. Here is just another way to encourage and say that we believe it’s important and here is a way that the City can help promote it and encourage health and wellbeing.”
The Wellness Challenge takes place from Jan. 20 to Feb. 16. The registration of teams for the challenge must be done by Jan. 15.
The format of this year’s challenge will be similar to previous events, but with a few changes. There were nearly 2,000 participants in the Wellness Challenge over the past seven years.
“So that’s exciting,” she said. “We’re hoping to have a big year again this year. We have a few changes. I always tweak it. I ask for feedback every year so that I make a few changes, depending on what the participants have given me as feedback.”
The challenge aims to promote healthy habits in relation to nutrition, physical activity and sleep. Some of the changes for this year are related to nutrition.
“The Canadian food guide is quite different now,” she noted. “They don’t really talk about the four food groups or the different servings. I’ve taken the information right from the Canadian food guide and I have incorporated it. Also, I always work with registered dieticians here from Saskatchewan Health Authority. So I make sure that I put in things that are very accurate and factual, based on research.”
There are some small changes to the physical activity component to make it easier for participants to record their activities. They receive points for the amount of activity up to the recommended 150 minutes per week.
“Basically, it is promoting any kind of physical activity where you would get a moderate to vigorous physical activity,” she said. “You want your heart rate to go up, so some kind of cardio, but we leave it completely up to the individuals. That could be walking, skating, tobogganing, it could be going to the gym. Anything where there is a physical activity.”
Every previous challenge included a wellness education portion, and there are new education videos for this year’s challenge based on the themes of nutrition, water, sleep and physical activity. Participants will receive bonus points for watching the videos, which will be around 10-15 minutes long.
“It will be a video that will be on one of the topics,” she said. “So one week it’s all about sleep and it goes through the physiology of why sleep is important and how we can benefit from it. Hopefully that educational component will help people understand the rationale behind these choices.”
Choo-Foo added that weekly challenges have been incorporated in the Wellness Challenge, and participants will receive bonus points for trying out these challenges.
“Every week there’s a different challenge,” she said. “The first week is based on trying a new exercise, and the next one is about turning off electronics before going to bed. The third one is trying some new recipes, and the fourth week we’re asking people to set a wellness goal for hopefully the ideas that will last more than four weeks – that it becomes a habit and a lifestyle change.”
The impact of technology on wellness will be addressed both with regard to sleep and nutrition during the Wellness Challenge.
“There’s lots of benefits to technology, but there’s some disadvantages too, where we don’t let our brain shut down,” she explained. “So one part is a challenge where turning off electronics an hour before going to sleep. That’s just for one week of the challenge, and then the other part of it is in nutrition, it’s a part of the Canadian food guide. It’s enjoying at least one technology-free meal per day. No telephones, no TVs, no laptops, just enjoying food and the company when you’re sitting eating.”
Swift Current residents who want to participate in the 2020 Wellness Challenge can register a team from their workplace, organization, family or friends. Each team member will keep track of daily wellness points in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, water and sleep during the four weeks of the challenge.
The total points from each team will be compiled at the end of the challenge. There will be prizes for the top five individuals in the challenge with the highest points and also a prize for the team with the highest average of points. Only teams with at least five members will be considered for the team prize.
Choo-Foo noted that the Wellness Challenge is sponsored by the Swift Current Kiwanis Club, which made it possible to provide prices.
The Wellness Challenge takes place for only a few weeks, but it can be a useful way for participants to start healthier habits.
“The reason that we picked the third week of January is most times people make New Year’s resolutions and after about two to three weeks it’s kind of difficult,” she said. “So it’s a way to try to motivate and encourage.”
She received positive feedback from previous participants about the Wellness Challenge and the benefits they experienced from different activities.
“The goal is for it to extend further,” she said. “The number one key is starting with awareness and there’s lots of positive feedback saying it made me more aware of how much water I drink and I’m feeling more energy and I’m hoping to incorporate this as I move forward.”
To register a team for the 2020 Wellness Challenge, send an e-mail to Choo-Foo at email@example.com and include the team name, number of participants, and the name of the team captain.
For more information, contact Community Services at 306-778-2787 or visit the City of Swift Current website at www.swiftcurrent.ca/wellnesschallenge