Maintaining physical health is especially important for those who are living with or at risk for developing a significant health problem. Still, it can be hard for anyone to stay motivated or to know where to start.
That's why the Love2Live program offers an encouraging and individualized approach that supports people in reaching their fitness goals.
The program, launched in 2006, is a partnership between Saskatchewan Blue Cross and the University of Regina's Dr. Paul Schwann Applied Health and Research Centre. Its goal is to help people with chronic diseases or with two or more risk factors for heart disease lead healthier lives.
“If only we can prevent cardiac events and help people change their lifestyle, then perhaps people will not need rehab,” says program coordinator Phyllis Bend.
While the average program participant used to be someone around 65 years of age, Bend states that they now see “a much wider age range from 16 to age 94.”
Youth are increasingly at risk for developing heart disease, according to a study released in 2017. The study examined the bodies of 760 teenagers and young people. It found blocked coronary arteries caused by cholesterol buildup, suggesting that preventing future heart disease is “a pediatric problem.”
Love2Live participants are referred by their doctor or specialist. The program starts with a consultation by a clinical exercise physiologist to learn more about the individual's health history; next, they design an individualized exercise program for each participant. Bend says a nurse regularly monitors participants’ blood pressure and heart rhythms, and addresses any health concerns while teaching the importance of taking medication.
In addition to fitness and health offerings, the program offers regular Love2Live Connect sessions (hosted by a psychologist) that bring together people who would like extra support and want to share their experiences. The sessions feature expert speakers that deliver information on topics such as travelling with a chronic disease, the importance of a living will and medication updates.
Bend explains that the program also provides a hands-on learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students studying at the university. This multifaceted approach is important to Saskatchewan Blue Cross, where they strive to give back to the community financially, as well as through donations of time, resources, energy and spirit.
“The program is more than exercise. The program itself is a community,” she states.
The program's effectiveness can be measured by the lives it has touched and improved. Ron is 66 years old and suffers from asthma and bronchiectasis. When he noticed his health was starting to decline, he started the exercise program to improve his breathing. Ron says that his respirologist indicated during their latest visit that if it hadn't been for exercising with Love2Live, his health and breathing capacity would be in “much worse shape.”
G. Gregory Willows worked with Love2Live for almost three years after suffering a heart attack while climbing in the Alps. “The encouragement that you receive from the staff gives you the confidence that you will recover fully from the ordeal, and go on to lead a life style of healthier living,” he explains. “It greatly assists in one’s recovery from a frightening life incident.”
Saskatchewan Blue Cross has provided health coverage to the province's residents for over 70 years, and supports over 200 charities across the province including Love2Live. These include Push2Play, a program to inspire families to stay active and Recess Guardians, which helps youth develop life skills through unstructured play. The health benefits provider also supports MEND, an obesity prevention healthy lifestyle program designed for children, and a grassroots healthy communities initiative called Saskatchewan in motion.
Saskatchewan Blue Cross recently introduced a new heart icon for its corporate social responsibility initiatives. You’ll see it promoting the organizations it supports, which spread love and wellness across Saskatchewan.