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Take Heart: Chart Your Own Destiny by Doreen Marion Gee

In the new

millennium, a zillion options exist for living better, healthier and longer. Panorama Recreation Centre is on board with an exceptional program to optimize health and extend longevity: "Take Heart." The lucky participants have the power to map their own fate and create a healthy long future for themselves. Here are the staggering statistics for "Heart Month:" Heart disease and stroke take one life every seven minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor (Heart and Stroke Foundation). The staff at Panorama want to reduce those numbers. "Take Heart" is a cardiac rehabilitation program offered at local recreation centres in partnership with VIHA. Melanie Alsdorf, Panorama’s Fitness, Weights & Rehabilitation Coordinator, explains that many participants are there to rebuild their health after a cardiac event but she encourages people with risk factors to also attend as a proactive preventative measure. Accordingly, this rehabilitation program also accepts participants who have other chronic conditions, such as respiratory illness, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and lung & kidney disease (VIHA brochure). The amazing benefits of this cuttingedge initiative include improvements in fitness, heart rates, blood pressure, sugar levels and quality of life. "Anytime" registration involves: doctor assessment, referral and monitoring; interview; one-on-one exercise session; 23 twice-weekly group exercise sessions in a self-paced individualized program; final maintenance sessions – all delivered by highly trained staff. The sessions include cardiovascular and strength training, endurance and stretching components. Blood pressure and heart rates are measured before, during and after. Participants gradually make their cardiovascular systems stronger and more efficient.

One of Melanie’s first gigs was facilitating the Panorama "Take Heart" program: "It was very rewarding to see such a great change in people over three months and to see how much they improved." The statistics sing the benefits: "A recent meta-analysis of trials conducted over the past decade confirmed that cardiac rehabilitation reduced all-cause mortality (after an event) by 25 per cent." (Resource Manual). Personal stories are the best litmus test. Emmy Secord started "Take Heart" in 2006 after a cardiac event. She gushes about the program in the Panorama 2008 program guide: "My fitness and flexibility greatly improved, my blood pressure decreased and … my quality of life changed with the increased stamina, strength and energy I had." The real value of the "Take Heart" program is putting people in the driver’s seat when it comes to their health. The program helps participants stave off dark bitter endings. "Take Heart" empowers people to take control of their own health and longevity by building their defenses against relapse or heart disease to begin with. It gives people the power to control their own destiny. Contact:,

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Seaside February 2013 Issue  
Seaside February 2013 Issue  

Think of our publication as an extra dimension of our community space, a place where the West Coast culture is treasured and celebrated. We’...