Smokers eager to take up the sport of running are in luck.
The Lung Association of Nova Scotia is offering another Learn to Run for Smokers program in HRM this fall, and the first session begin this week.
“It is a bit of a wacky concept,” agreed Robert MacDonald, programs manager for the association.
MacDonald said the group’s president and CAO Louis Brill has been involved with athletics for many years. The concept of encouraging smokers and recent quitters to take up running seemed like a natural fit.
“The goals are for people to get healthier and realize smoking is hindering them and to figure out steps to become tobacco free,” MacDonald said.
The Lung Association offered its first series of Learn to Run for Smokers programs in 2009. Participants can walk, jog or run depending on their fitness levels.
Although the program has been primarily offered out of Halifax and Dartmouth, MacDonald’s goal is to expand the program throughout HRM, the province and beyond.
“It’s an eight week program. WIth that comes a training schedule for three days per week,” MacDonald explained. “The group meets once a week (for the educational component), and the other two sessions (the training component) are the responsibility of the participant.”
Each weekly session will focus on a different aspect of running. Topics include the importance of nutrition, proper running technique and equipment.
“We’re not ramming ‘don’t smoke’ down their throats. It’s not mentioned until they’re comfortable with it,” MacDonald said. “Usually by week four or five they’ll hear some in depth discussion about tobacco cessation.”
Sessions are typically well-attended, with between 15 and 20 participants on average in each group.
“Smoking is an addiction, and is one of the hardest things to overcome. Once they see other people have similar problems..it is a relief,” MacDonald said. “They get the information they require to help them quit smoking, and learn what’s available in their area.”
Following the eight week session, the goal is for participants to walk, jog or run a five kilometre race.
This spring, program participants entered the association’s annual Lung Run.
“It’s a cheap sport and a good one for the health of people. It becomes addictive itself,” MacDonald said.
Learn more at www.ns.lung.ca/learntorunforsmokers/ or by calling 443-8141.
The Learn to Run for Smokers Program begins this week. But even if you miss the first session, MacDonald said it’s not too late to sign up.
• Saturday, Sept. 15 at 9:00 am
Saint Mary’s University Tower – VIP Lounge