Western helps Middlesex-London set off ‘in motion’


By Dr. Jim Weese
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Readers may have seen the Middlesex-London “in motion” posters that adorn bulletin boards throughout campus and the billboards/bus stop shelters and buses across the city and country.
These promotional materials are part of an exciting campaign designed to get our citizens to make better choices to improve their health, especially in the area of physical activity. A recent Canadian Health Measures Survey indicates that the prevalence of overweight and obese Canadians is as high as it has ever been. We need to work together to reverse this trend.
The “in motion” campaign is a nationally recognized advocacy program. It has made a measurable difference in some regions of our country, and we believe that it will be effective in our region as well.
We have harnessed the energy and enthusiasm of many talented members of our community and many existing organizations, all committed to making a difference in Middlesex-London, a region known throughout the world for outstanding health care, education and research. Many professors, staff members, students and alumni from The University of Western Ontario are working on this campaign and I am pleased to serve as Middlesex-London Executive Committee chair.
The faculty recently hosted childhood obesity expert Dr. Mark Tremblay as the 5th Annual Faculty of Health Sciences Distinguished Lecture Speaker. He spoke about the prevalence and causes of rising obesity levels in our community. We also had Tremblay deliver presentations to parents/grandparents and also to service providers while he was in the city. We followed up on these sessions with a pan-university research think tank session (e.g., professors, graduate students, community leaders) to discuss research questions/action research projects.
Our community has many excellent programs already in place that share part, or all, of our “in motion” mandate to make our region “Canada’s Healthiest Community.” We continue to partner with these groups and organizations to celebrate their fine work and help them expand their reach through a conceptually-strong social marketing campaign.
Our approach is to engage, support, align, and celebrate these programs and their accomplishments. We have also enlisted the support of the region’s civic, educational, and corporate leaders and asked them to serve as champions of this great initiative. President Chakma has agreed to serve as one of our champions. 
The campaign will provide our citizens with the information and motivation required for them to get more active and make better decisions for their health.
Our comprehensive “in motion” website (inmotion4life.ca) is generating high levels of traffic. It is also accessible from the web pages of our partner organizations. The website is designed to be a one-stop, comprehensive healthy living resource that provides visitors with ideas, suggestions, motivational resources and available program information from our partner organizations. Insights on starting and maintaining a fitness program, making healthier choices, and other information will make the site an invaluable resource. Readers can also read helpful information from exercise psychology researchers like tips for starting (e.g., working with your doctor and other certified fitness professionals, starting slow and building up, set specific, realistic and measurable goals, celebrate success) and sustaining a physical activity program (e.g., employ the buddy system).
Our citizens can find all this information, and more (including the Canadian Physical Activity Guide to Healthy and Active living) on the Middlesex-London “in motion” website.
Our local research confirmed that walking (for exercise and/or daily living) is the most popular activity for our citizens (i.e., more than 80 per cent for each of the adult, youth and children respondent groups). A review of the website will provide viewers with tips on starting a family walking program, maps of walking trails throughout our region and tips on participating in this activity (and others) to threshold levels that garner health benefits. Bookmark the Middlesex-London “in motion” website today on your computer, and encourage your family members, friends and colleagues to do the same. 
We all know that the health of our children, youth, families, adults and senior citizens can be improved if citizens are more physically active. Middlesex-London “in motion” will achieve its vision of “building Canada’s healthiest community” by promoting, supporting and encouraging residents to include physical activity and healthy living into their daily lives. We will measure our progress empirically and celebrate our successes together.
Dr. Jim Weese Professor and  Dean
Faculty of Health Sciences

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