By Colin Hearne on January 7, 2015
This month features Christina Thiele, Communications and Community Relations Manager at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.
Welcome to Thriving Campus – a new addition to our Healthy UBC Newsletter featuring, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences from UBC staff, faculty and students.
What strategies do you use in your work life to help you thrive?
There’s nothing like some good old-fashioned peer pressure to help you stay healthy at work. My colleagues at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility are some of the healthiest people I know, and every day I learn more from them about how to embed healthy strategies into my workday. Here’s what I’ve picked up so far:
- It’s not always possible, but when you can, why not take a walking meeting?
- Take those stairs. Our beautiful building was designed to encourage movement and our stairs were designed to be our prime method of moving between the floors, with adjacent spaces to encourage informal meetings and discussions, plus amazing views of the city.
- Did you know sitting is the new smoking? I’m lucky enough to have a standing desk. I find that doing fine mouse work is better for sitting and an email/tackling to-do list is better while standing.
- If you can, get to work using active transport, such as walking or cycling. It’s definitely not as fun when the days are shorter and it seems like it’s always raining, but I prefer it to taking packed bus or paying for parking.
- Like many of the people at our Centre, I wear an activity tracker. My goal is at least 10,000 steps a day. If you are motivated by metrics, I recommend getting one.
A huge factor that helps me feel connected to the healthy habits of my colleagues is our Healthy Workplace Initiative (HWIP) called Hip to be Fit. It’s a points-based program infused with a bit of healthy competition where you earn points for using active transport to get to work, eating vegetables, and participating in healthy challenges. To me, it drives home the point that you don’t need to run marathons and wear high-tech spandex to be a healthy person. You can realize so many health benefits just by building a bit of activity into your day.
What strategies do you use in your personal life to help you thrive?
I find that I get bored easily with any particular activity so I try to mix it up, though I cycle year-round. In the winter I do hot yoga and get a season’s pass to a different mountain each year with friends. In the summer I try to find new and exciting places to hike and swim.
Christina holds primary responsibility for the communications portfolio at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. CHHM is a Centre filled with passionate researchers, clinicians, trainees, and staff who collectively care about research excellence, community, and health promotion.
She is also the vice chair of the Environmental Youth Alliance’s Board of Directors.
Posted in Colin Hearne, Mental Health, Physical Health, Thriving Campus | Tagged Hip to be Fit, mental health, physical health, stairs, standing, strategies, success, thriving campus, Walking | 1 Response
By Miranda Massie on April 3, 2014
Thriving Faculty is a regular column highlighting individual or collective UBC Faculty who exemplify integration of health and wellbeing into their classrooms, research, departments and/or communities. Thriving Faculty support others’ health and wellbeing in addition to making a commitment to their own self-care. This column highlights personal and professional stories of Thriving Faculty.
1. What are the central challenges you face in your role as Faculty?
The biggest challenge that I face as a faculty member is trying to fit in the time for all the exciting work that I would like to participate in. There are so many opportunities and potential collaborations at UBC, and beyond, there is just not enough time in the day.
2. Do you implement any strategies to support student mental health and wellbeing in the classroom/lab?
My research looks at physical activity and sedentary patterns with the goal of reducing disability and improving mobility across the lifespan. From a health and research perspective, I aim to “walk the talk” when it comes to reduce sitting time while at work. We frequently have standing meetings, and when possible, we have walking meetings (walk and talk) and take the stairs whenever possible. In this way, my work life reflects the principles that we aim to impart within our research focus. I also encourage staff and trainees to take an active role in the work we accomplish to develop their leadership skills.
3. What strategies do you use in your own life, that help you thrive as Faculty?
There are several key things that I employ to try to maintain balance within my life. First and foremost, I ground my day in being physically active. Physical activity goes beyond exercise; it includes activities of daily living, transportation and occupational activity. Therefore, I employ a utilitarian approach to being physically active by walking and using public transportation to increase my activity. I strive to make physical activity more of an automatic response, which is why routine activities such as active commuting support these goals. I use the stairs and try to reduce my overall sitting time and I participate in regular exercise (mostly running) so that I meet physical activity guidelines for moderate to vigorous physical activity. I believe my physical activity is connected to my cognitive and mental.
It’s also important for me to set goals and put things into perspective. To me, establishing collaborative goals, as well as clear and frequent communication is paramount to maintaining productive relationships and completing my research objectives.
The last key piece that I garnered during my time at UBC is to resist the temptation to engage in too much multi-tasking. Rather, I focus on completing one item at a time, to the best of my ability. This does not mean that I do not have multiple projects happening simultaneously. It means that I plan my weeks and days to make sure that I start projects earlier, allocate time and incrementally work towards achieving my goals.
4. Are there any resources on campus that you have found to be helpful for promoting wellbeing for either yourself or your students?
For me, the best resources are the community of people that I work with at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (CHHM) on the VGH Campus, and in Family Practice. Specifically, at CHHM there is a UBC Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program, called Hip to be Fit, which has been overwhelmingly successful. The program flourishes because it was developed by an enthusiastic group of bright young staff and trainees who have really captured the essence of community engagement through physical activity. It is very motivating to have such positive role models for being physically active, as well as opportunities to socialize (while engaging in physical activity). Within the program, staff, trainees and faculty can also engage in other community strategies (by supporting charities through monthly soup lunches, donating gently worn sneakers etc.) as well as educational lunch and learn sessions for physical activity related topics.
5. Are they any specific initiatives and/or research you are involved in that promote health, mental health and wellbeing?
I am involved in several different initiatives in my workplace as well as within my research program. Within the workplace, I am a team member (and participant) of the Hip to Be Fit workplace initiative that was developed and run by staff and trainees at the CHHM. I even won the Hip to Be Fit Winter 2013 stair climbing championship. My walking meetings definitely paid off in more ways than one! The whole Hip to be Fit program is so fantastic. I think the workplace benefits from building regular physical activity into daily routines and I’m so pleased with how Hip to be Fit works for us at CHHM.
In addition I was also the supervisor for a graduate student who investigated sitting time in the CHHM workplace within a natural experiment. It provided tremendous insight into the physical environment and sitting time in the workplace. My own research program is composed of studies investigating opportunities to encourage more physical activity, and reduce sitting time throughout the day. Most recently, we completed a pilot study looking at reducing sitting and increasing physical activity in women at retirement. The Everyday Activity Supports You (EASY) study is grounded in behaviour change and encourages participants to make physical activity automatic and embedded within daily life.
6. In your role as faculty, please describe your experience balancing work-life commitments? Is there a metaphor that depicts this relationship?
In my role as faculty, the best metaphors to describe balancing my work-life commitments are rooted in gardening and farming. It was valuable for me to observe my work life in terms of seasons, and that work needs time, cultivating and perseverance for growth. This framing elicited my reflection on the seasonality of being a faculty member. For example it took me about two years in my role as faculty to recognize the peaks (grants, teaching) and valleys of work production. The seasons remind me there are times to work, but equally to take breaks and rest before the next season begins. Interesting, many times, my best ideas (those a-ha moments) occurred while I was either being physically active or taking a break. In addition I also knew that I needed to plant those seeds or bulbs in the fall (submit grants) because the studies that I lead occur in the spring and summer—so very much the metaphor of growing a program of research and development.
Maureen Ashe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator, and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar. Dr. Ashe is also a physiotherapist and a core investigator at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility in Vancouver, BC.
Her research interests include investigating older adults’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns across different populations, such as older adults after hip fracture, older adults who reside in Assisted Living communities, and middle-age adults at or near retirement. Her work also spans testing interventions that aim to improve or maintain mobility across these age groups. Maureen has a special interest in understanding the contributing role of the built and social environments in fostering positive lifestyle behaviours such as active transportation.