TIMMINS -- Public health officials in Timmins are promoting an active lifestyle to prevent falls among the older adult population.  They hosted a ‘Winter Walking Forum’ at St. Mary’s Gardens retirement home on Jan. 22 where seniors were given advice to help keep them on their feet.  

There were a variety of guest speakers including a health promoter, a dietician, a podiatrist, a chiropractor and a Tai Chi instructor. These experts explained and showed ways to improve diet and mobility, especially during the winter months.

 “When we think of our older population, older adults are nine times more likely to experience fall related injuries than any other age group,” said April Jalbert, public health nurse with the Porcupine Health Unit. “So the ultimate goal is getting people active and remain active and not be influenced by let’s say, daunting weather.”

Marty Paul, a health promoter with the Porcupine Health Unit, focussed on the benefits of pole walking.

“Pole walking is a great method to improve their balance and give them more confidence to venture outside,” said Paul. “It uses more muscles than normal walking—you use your upper body a bit more so that aspect increases the function of the shoulder girdle; the mobility in the shoulder area; and gives them more support when they’re walking.”

Sharon Furlan, a tenant at the home, enjoyed testing out her new knees during the pole walking demonstration and said she’s going to try it.  She also promised to try to eat a little better than she has.

“I have a very hard time eating vegetables and stuff because I’m a very fussy eater, but I’m sure I’ll try anyways and try different recipes and that.”

Furlan and other seniors thought the forum was an interesting session and even found it life-changing.  

“My husband has Parkinson’s so now I have to get rid of all these scatter rugs I have,” said Gerry Helmer, a resident of Timmins.  

Health officials were pleased to hear the participants’ feedback. They hope to form an official walking group and while they said it would have to be a community-driven initiative, they would be happy to support it by making themselves available for information and direction.