After the first of year of study, the results are in. Smokers can literally run away from the habit.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia are in the second year of a study into “Run to Quit” a program that brings together the Canadian Cancer Society’s quit-smoking initiatives and Running Room Canada’s five-kilometre walking and running clinics. The results of the first 12 months of the study show that 40 per cent of surveyed participants have quit smoking and 43 per cent were running an average of three times per week.
“Run to Quit was rolled out through several different provinces in Canada in 2016, but this will be its first year in Manitoba,” said Kyra Moshtaghi Nia, Manitoba Cancer Society program coordinator. “It was initially started as a pilot project in Ottawa and because of its success it received funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. We’re in year two of a three-year rollout.”
The program, which is open to people of all fitness levels, has three ways to participate. A 10-week, in-store clinic will be held through the Running Room in Winnipeg, while people in the Westman region can join via an online, virtual clinic. The third method is a do-it-yourself (DIY) program, which will provide some help from the Canadian Cancer Society, but will not include the guidance of trainers.
The price is free for DIY participants and costs up to $69.99 for virtual and in-store clinics.
In Manitoba, Run to Quit is being led by Jeff Rodgers, a Winnipeg resident who quit smoking by walking and running. He lost 100 pounds while doing so and is in better shape than he was two decades ago. Jenn Walton, a clinic guest speaker, quit smoking in April of 2000 and curbed her cravings and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by joining a gym. She now runs half marathons.
Finally, Jenn’s mother, Lorraine Walton, started walking for stress relief before bumping her activity up to running. She now runs half marathons and manages the Running Room in Winnipeg.
Moshtaghi Nia notes that the ‘run’ aspect of Run to Quit should not be a deterrent for potential participants.
“This is for smokers at all levels (of fitness and abilities) who want to quit. They don’t need to be somebody who has ever been a runner before,” she said. “It’s geared to all different fitness levels and starts at a very gradual pace. You begin by walking, and if you don’t get to the running stage, that’s fine. It’s really about increasing your health and well-being.”
In 2016, 1,000 people joined the Run to Quit campaign through 184 in-store clinics, 71 online clinics and 815 DIY programs. Eighty-three runners were interviewed through the six-month follow-up survey, which found that 40 per cent reported quitting smoking.
The survey also found that 91 per cent of the surveyed participants who completed the program had cut back on smoking and 97 per cent said it encouraged them to exercise more.
Registration for Run to Quit is open now at runtoquit.com. The running clinics begin April 17, but participants can register until May 5. Smokers registering before March 31 can use the coupon code TRAINING10 for a $10 discount on the program.
All participants entering the Run to Quit program are eligible for promotional prizes after meeting certain standards. Registrants who quit smoking for five weeks can win $1,000. Participants who remain smokeless and complete a five-kilometre walk or run will be entered to win a 2017 Honda Coupe LX or one of 13 cash prizes totaling $16,000.