UPDATE (December 14, 2018): Walk or Run to Quit programs for 2018 have ended. All Walk or Run to Quit options are currently on hold while new program delivery options are being evaluated. Check website for options and updates in 2019: www.runtoquit.com

Walk or Run to Quit — a program run by the Canadian Cancer Society in partnership with the Running Room, aims to help smokers quit smoking by getting active and learning to walk or run 5 km. The program started as a pilot in 2013 in Ottawa and has since been offered nationwide. Participants have two options to take part this fall in New Brunswick:

  • A virtual 10-week training program;
  • A free “Train On Your Own” program for those who want to go at their own pace. It provides the same information and resources via email.

“We had 113 New Brunswickers take part in Walk or Run to Quit programs this past spring and fall,” says Michelle St-Pierre, Manager, Prevention and Support Services at the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick, who oversees Walk or Run to Quit in the province. “The “Train On Your Own” option was quite popular – 95 people completed this online self-directed training. We encourage people to register for the upcoming fall programs. The fall is a wonderful time to take up running and set new goals such as quitting smoking.”

Walk or Run to Quit is highly effective since physical activity is proven to reduce cravings and helps manage withdrawal symptoms, plus it helps to keep smokers who are on their quit smoking journey motivated with a goal to focus on. One lucky New Brunswicker, Diane Beaulieu even won a very well deserved $1,000 cash prize by participating in Walk or Run to Quit in 2017, which topped off her amazing success story. Read her story below. (Shared with permission from Walk or Run to Quit.)

If you’re a smoker or want to support a smoker on their quit smoking journey, register for Walk or Run to Quit at runtoquit.com. A virtual training program starts September 17th. The Train On Your Own program is ongoing until the end of the year (December 31, 2018).

Diane Beaulieu considered herself an occasional smoker. She smoked on and off throughout her life, usually during stressful events. She also considered herself somewhat active as she ran occasionally. Following the loss of three close family members, however, Diane stopped running and instead her smoking increased. It was a very difficult time. “When you smoke, it’s like you don’t care about yourself anymore, you just give up. However, when I finally decided to quit smoking for good, I chose to love myself and to love life. I made myself a priority,” says Diane.

She joined the Canadian Cancer Society Walk or Run to Quit Program and registered for the “Train on Your Own” training session. Over the course of 10 weeks, participants in this quit smoking program get simple and gradual instructions to learn to walk or run 5 km plus receive quit smoking tips and resources. “I loved how the program was organized. It was like having a friend who supported me along the way. It’s easy to give up when you are trying to quit smoking, but the Walk or Run to Quit program was there to encourage me and keep me going through the process,” Diane says.

If quitting smoking and getting physically active isn’t enough motivation to register for Walk or Run to Quit, incentive prizes are also offered. In addition to successfully quitting smoking, Diane was one of the lucky prize winners who walked away with $1000. “This was a total surprise for me. I didn’t do it for the cash prizes. I wanted to quit smoking before becoming a grandmother to set a good example. Winning was certainly a great bonus,” she gushes.

As someone who likes to challenge herself and to celebrate her smoke-free status, her goal this year is to complete the 800 km Santiago de Compostela route. According to Diane, running has become a part of her. “Running is an individual and personal journey. It allows me to connect with nature, to feel the wind and sun on my face and to hear the birds singing.”

Story and photos used with permission from Walk or Run to Quit, the Canadian Cancer Society and Diane Beaulieu.

Story published in September 2018

By Nathalie Landry – NBATC Communications Coordinator