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Adding Life to Your Years: Looking at Exercise as Medicine with Dr. Darrell Menard

By Spencer McBride, The Guard –

Over the last 20 years, inactivity has become a major risk factor to the health of Canadians. Most of us now do our jobs sitting down, and finding the time to be active outside of work can be challenging. Without regular physical activity, the risk of developing chronic medical problems such as diabetes and back problems significantly increases, as does the risk of mental health problems like depression. Dr. Darrell Menard has spent much of his career combatting these illnesses, and using physical activity to fight back against those risks is the focus of his “Exercise is Medicine” presentation, which comes to NDHQ(Carling) on 24 April 2019.

Dr. Darrell Menard is Métis, born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. He has had a long and varied career in both sports and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), starting in 1974 when he enrolled in the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP) program. Persistent training and physical activity took him to the 1976 Canadian Track and Field National Athletics Championships, where he ran the 1500 meters in 3.49.6, a CAF record that remains unbroken to this day. His experience in sports, combined with his leadership abilities, made him the coach and guide runner at the 1980 Paralympic Games, where he and Jacques Pilon won a Paralympic gold medal and set a world record.

His career as a CAF member followed a similar upwards momentum. Promoted to Captain in the Physical Education Branch in 1980, Dr. Menard soon began work as a team physician for the CAF National Running program, moving to the Royal Military College as the Physical Education Officer and running team coach a few years later. He graduated from medical school in 1988, and was promoted Major at Canadian Forces Base Chatham as the Base Surgeon in 1990. Dr. Menard is the Canadian Armed Forces track and field record-holder, Member of the Canadian Forces sports hall of fame, and Surgeon General’s specialist advisor in sports medicine, and lives in Russell, Ontario, with his wife Janet and their family.

Dr. Menard’s work with the CAF and in sports gives him a great understanding of how deeply important physical activity can be to every aspect of health and life. It fights against many health risks Canadians face every day, but for him, it doesn’t just add years to your life, it also “adds life to your years,” making every day more interesting. With the many resources and programs available to CAF members, there is something for everyone, and it is never too late to get started.

To find out more about Dr. Menard’s approach to life and fitness, or to register to attend his presentation on 24 April 2019, visit PSP Ottawa’s website and find out for yourself how well exercise can work as medicine.

This post is also available in: Français (French)

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