West Shore residents attending classes at Camosun College may have a new prescription available to them. While there are not many chronic health issues that can potentially be controlled through such a simple method as exercise, Type 2 diabetes potentially can be.
A new club has formed at Camosun College’s Interurban campus called Exercise is Medicine, and is hoping to help with that.
The club is supported by a Canadian organization with the same name that has a post-secondary branch allowing students to form campus clubs to spread the shared philosophy.
The concept is to engage community members who have diabetes and, essentially, give them a prescription for their health.
Mellisa Rollins is one of the volunteer students in the club. She said the six-week, bi-weekly program has proven to be a success and she and other members of the club would love to see it continue.
“So far, it’s been great,” she said of the community participants. “They love it.”
Rollins added many told her that this was the “kick in the butt” they needed.
“It’s so touching to us that this is the push that someone needed to get moving.”
The program is almost over for this semester but she wants to get the word out to students and interest the public so that it will continue. The volunteers/trainers are currently fourth year students in Camosun College’s bachelor of sport and fitness leadership degree with an exercise and wellness specialization.
“We hope we will have students in their third year run the program and get community members involved,” she said. Not only do students get badly-needed experience in the field, they can also use their volunteer time as internship hours.
Exercise for those with Type 2 diabetes can improve their glycemic control, weight maintenance and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to Canadian government statistics, Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada with more than 60,000 new cases yearly. Nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. The good news is that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or postponed by making healthy lifestyle choices.
It is estimated that close to two million Canadian adults have diabetes. One third of these people are unaware that they have the disease. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Canada and the cost of diabetes is estimated to be up to $9 billion a year.
Committing to a program and the expectation that they will show up because the volunteers are expecting them is a good motivation to show up, said Rollins.
Hannah Flahr, president of Camosun’s first Exercise is Medicine Club, said the pilot program was very successful and all the participants’ spots were filled in the first week. They will do a survey to see what worked and what didn’t and tailor future programs accordingly.
The club is supported by the Camosun College Student Society as well as Camosun and the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence (PISE).
All of the training and exercise for Diabetes Exercise & Education Program (DEEP) is done at the community gym on the Interurban campus.