Exercise Makes You More Attractive

Quotation from My Health for Life Program www.myhealthforlife.com.au Photograph © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

My Health for Life is a free lifestyle program funded by the Queensland Government and designed and delivered by the Healthier Queensland Alliance. The Alliance is a group of non-Government organisations working in partnership with the Government and Health and Wellbeing Queensland to improve the health of Queenslanders.

The organisations involved are:

  • Diabetes Queensland
  • Stroke Foundation
  • National Heart Foundation of Australia
  • Queensland Primary Health Networks (PHN)
  • Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland ECCQ)
  • Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC)

The following are thanked for their counsel and support:

  • Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld)
  • Queensland Health
  • Brisbane South Primary Health Network Positive Impact Program
  • Victoria Life! Program
  • Network of providers and coaches
  • The people of Caboolture who helped develop this program.

I am currently participating in a free fortnightly My Health for Life Program and after just three group sessions (with a physiotherapist, alternating exercises indoors and out in the park) I feel positive about ‘tweaking’ my lifestyle and eating habits for the better, e.g. increased movement and decreased intake of tea and bikkies.

Also, I was given a Group Coaching Program workbook which is filled out each session to keep my healthy eating on-track and planning for success. A Wellbeing Book, or Guide to Good Health, is included in the pack (in an environmentally friendly carry bag) which offers support, tips on motivation, monitoring your progress, etc, as well as overcoming challenges.



If you are interested, there is a free health check on the My Health for Life website. Give it a go. In my group there are couples, an asthmatic, a diabetic and a man who has had heart surgery. You’ve got a lot of life to live.

My suggestion—sign up and step away from the screen—do it now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Exercise, eat, sleep like a cat © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Happy Paws Happy Hearts – Pet Power

There are health benefits to your human-animal interactions!  Studies suggest that pets are good for your heart and stress levels in more ways than one.  Caring for an animal has shown to lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress-related hormone) levels, reduce loneliness and boost your mood.

To find out more, we arrived at University of Queensland Healthy Living headquarters in Toowong at one o’clock for an informative talk from Dr Nancy A. Pachana, clinical geropsychologist and neuropsychologist—and cupcake maker—accompanied by the team from Happy Paws Happy Hearts.

As you would have guessed, the highlight was two adorable and bouncy puppies, Timon and Rafiki, who carried out their pats-and-cuddles duty in admirable fashion.  The blurry photos attest to their eagerness.

Happy Paws Happy Hearts foundation offers an Animal Basics Program, Animal Care Program and Animal Handling Program for individuals and groups.  Participants learn to interact with a variety of animals waiting to be adopted from RSPCA by using well-established animal interaction methods to increase confidence in both humans and critters.

Depending on the program and availability, interaction could be with puppies, kittens, dogs, cats, wildlife and farm animals.  Volunteers support attendees to reach their goals while working with these rescue animals within the shelter.

Research supports dogs and other animals assisting with physical, mental and emotional symptoms as well as supplement therapy for PTSD, anxiety and depression plus a range of psychiatric disorders.  They are particularly important for older people.

Over 60% of older community-dwelling adults cited pets as a key source of emotional support, while dog therapy reduced age care residents loneliness and depression as well as improved cognitive impairment in those with dementia.   The presence of animals provided avenues for active behaviour, decision-making and increased socialisation in nursing home residents.

Dr Pachana spoke about greater acknowledgement of the positive impact of animals in other contexts, such as the workplace and courtrooms.  I have seen encouraging signs in classrooms where children have difficulty with peer activities or reading aloud but respond with a calm dog beside them.

Can Do Canines train shelter dogs for therapy purposes and there are organisations like Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Story Dogs, and of course Happy Paws Happy Hearts doing a wonderful job.

We enjoyed our sociable and informative visit and send a special woof to Timon and Rafiki for being good boys.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

IMG_20190504_213404RSPCA, Wacol https://www.rspcaqld.org.au/

Happy Paws Happy Hearts, Wacol https://hphhfoundation.org/

University of Queensland, Toowong https://habs.uq.edu.au/uqhealthyliving