Heartland Tour promotes benefits of healthy lifestyle.
The obvious and not so obvious community benefits of a healthy lifestyle are the focus of the Ninth annual Heartland Tour.
The annual bicycle ride across the province stopped in Cape Breton on Monday with a message about the importance of an active lifestyle that stretches beyond a strong heart.
“If you want business to come and invest, there’s lot of literature that suggests if you don’t have a healthy community, business don’t invest because they spend too much on disability,” said Dr. Nick Giacomantonio, leader of Heartland Tour.
“They’ll look at a place and say: ‘ This place consumes a lot of disability costs so don’t invest there because they are going to cost us a lot of money.’”
A magical formula is not required to push workforce attitudes towards healthier choices, he said. In fact, he said, society has already recognized the importance of healthier choices and many are working to implement them.
“It’s not that I now have to add an hour to my day to find physical fitness — build it into your day,” he said.
“Walk to work. If you can’t walk to work, park your car on the opposites side of the parking lot and farthest away from the door.”
Taking the stairs and anything that add steps to a day are options, he said.
Giacomantonio and a core crew of 20 cyclists left Open Hearth Park Monday morning with that message and other healthy lifestyle tips.
They made their way around an estimated 90-km loop of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, joined by another 20 or so cyclists.
Sydney resident Benny Wrobleski had wanted to join the group in the past and was pleased his work schedule allowed it this time out.
“It’s all for fitness and health,” the 60 year-old said.
“I bike all summer … and in the winter I’m an avid downhill skier. I try to stay healthy.”
Cycling, he said, makes the legs stronger for winter activities and vice versa.
The tour made its way through Sydney on Monday to stops in Port Morien, Glace Bay and Lingan and many places in between.
Though some joined the riders for the entire journey, Giacomantonio said it’s very encouraging to see people take part even if it is only for a portion of the ride.
“What we are doing in the communities is motivating or hopefully mobilizing the community to say: ‘I’ll go with them for a short ride,’” he said.
“You don’t have to do the 100 km. Meet us in Donkin and pedal to Glace Bay. Meet us in Glace Bay and pedal to Dominion.”
As the tour made its way back to Open Hearth Park in Sydney various community groups had display and demonstrations that also emphasized the value of fitness.
Included was the Cape Breton Regional Fire Services, EHS, the Canadian military and others.
Members of the core riding team for the Ninth annual Heartland Tour gather prior to the start of the Cape Breton portion of the ride at Open Hearth Park on Monday. The province wide tour promotes heart health.