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October 19, 2015

Great strides for South Westland

One participant lost 21.3kg, several others lost between 8 and 11kg, Fox Glacier was awarded top town and the winning team from Whataroa walked the equivalent of 4107.1km in the South Westland 100 day challenge.

Last Thursday 8 October was officially the end of the South Westland 100 day challenge and tonight participants celebrated the great strides they'd taken for their health.

Initiated and supported by local medical staff, the 100 day competition to encourage people to get active attracted 153 participants, with many lasting the distance.

People entered either in teams or individually. Teams aimed to walk the distance of the Te Araroa Trail (3000km), without necessarily leaving South Westland, and individuals were encouraged to get as far along it as possible!

Winning the individual overall title with 3953 points was Paringa (Fox Glacier area) woman Brenda Monk, who says the Challenge motivated her to "get cracking and start walking again" after a debilitating knee injury for the past year.

"I am feeling very positive about activities that I can tackle from now on, whereas I had been feeling despondent and pessimistic," Brenda says.

Fox Glacier participants clocked up scores of 5714.9 - scores included points for nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. Community and Public Health staff Rosie McGrath and Jade Winter provided great help to challengees by running the Appetite for Life programme in South Westland.

Another Fox Glacier resident Abyee Williams clocked up the most steps, walking a total of 1702km.

"I have found the challenge really good to promote a healthy lifestyle. There has been great support by the local South Westland health services and (Rural Nurse Specialist) Julie Speedie," Abyee says.

Whataroa team "Walk the Line" scored 11867.9 points, more than 2600 points ahead of the next place-getters in the team's competition, "Southern" from Fox Glacier.

Participants received a pedometer, and were encouraged to check in frequently at local general practice clinics. The less nimble were also able to join in, with points scored for healthy lifestyle choices.

Organiser Dr Jenny James says baseline activity levels, height, weight, blood pressure and other general health information were recorded at the start, and at the completion of the 100 day challenge.

"We were stunned by the uptake in all the communities! What we can see is that this has created a total change in habits for some people. There's an amazing difference noticeable in the final figures for those who went all out with exercise, careful nutrition and good lifestyle choices," Jenny says.

"Even those who didn't complete the programme are saying they enjoyed just getting out and walking more and found the motivation really helpful. Many of the success stories are so inspiring and all of us in the practice have enjoyed being part of it."

The real strength of the challenge had been the team of Rural Nurse Specialists.

"They've been fantastic at engaging with people, motivating and helping them, they've gone above and beyond so many times to really make this work and I'd like to say a huge thank you to all of them. The feedback we've had from all the participants echoes this too, they've found the support from the nurses incredible and are really grateful for all the hard work they've put in."

Jenny also particularly wanted to thank Rowan Sullivan of Fox Glacier who had been helping local Rural Nurse Specialist Julie Speedie run the Challenge there.

"It's been their fabulous organisation and enthusiasm that has led Fox to win the top town trophy, which was made and donated by Pieter and Natasja Hills of Whataroa," Jenny says.

The challenge was supported by a number of businesses including the Scenic Hotel, Across Country Quadbikes, Okarito Kayaks, Te Koha Carving Gallery, The Franz Kiwi Centre, Outside Sports (Wanaka), DOC, Westland Pharmacy, The Cray Pot, Deep Canyon (Wanaka), Sky Dive Fox Glacier, White Heron Tours, Fox Glacier Guides, Harraway Oats, The Last Kitchen, The Fantail Café and Ngai Tahu.

Ends

Lee Harris,
Senior Communications Advisor
West Coast District Health Board
e: 
t: +64 27 836 1528

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