'Biking' the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Challenge in Battle Creek
They’ve walked from southwest Michigan to the Big Mac (bridge), cruised America’s highway on Route 66, floated around the world in hot-air balloons, sailed the Caribbean, strolled along the Great Wall of China, climbed Mt. Everest, and mushed over the tundra on the Iditarod. This year, they loaded up their backpacks, dusted off their compasses, and ‘bicycled’ through the woods along portions of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail.
Though it sounds like it, these are not extreme-athletes seeking to sail every ocean or conquer the highest mountain peaks, but cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients at Bronson Battle Creek (BBC) who chose to challenge themselves through a hospital exercise program.
Their training involved putting on their workout gear, lacing up their tennis shoes and walking, cycling, and stair-climbing their way on what would amount to be a 200-plus-mile path that in reality was painted on a mirror in the cardiac pulmonary rehab department on the BBC campus. The hiking and biking activity represents the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail that crosses Michigan from South Haven to Port Huron, which passes through Calhoun County.
Now in its ninth year, 74 patients took the challenge ‘to heart’ by participating in the 12-week exercise regimen with a virtual bike trip across the Lower Peninsula.
The program encourages rehabilitation patients to participate in regular exercises that will enhance their lifestyle changes.
Participants are given a trip card each week on which they record their progress-toward-goal; the staff keeps track on a large wall map so others can see the patients’ headway. Along the journey, they are awarded tokens for arrival at the designated points of interest.
“By the end of March, our goal was to have our patients travel the miles they would have if they actually walked or biked on the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail,” said Deborah Pierce, BS, RRT, pulmonary rehabilitation specialist at BBC. “Our patients aren’t out strolling over the mountains, or biking through the deserts per se, but they do receive credit for exercise they complete in the rehab exercise program. One hour of exertion is computed to 12 miles of distance credit. The intent is to provide motivation and fun to all cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients, and to encourage them to continue with their exercise that was started in their initial program of instruction.”
Patients work this challenge by using a wide variety of exercise equipment from treadmills and cycles to recumbent steppers and rowing machines.
This year’s biking challenge was supported by both the Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Centers, which are certified by The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). The pulmonary program serves those who suffer from chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, bronchiectasis, and pulmonary fibrosis. The cardiac program helps individuals with coronary artery disease (CAD). Anyone who has undergone open-heart surgery or stent placement, has experienced a heart attack, or has been diagnosed with stable angina (chest pain) is eligible for cardiac rehabilitation. The programs consist of educational classes as well as monitored exercise sessions.
The Calhoun County Trailway has been in the planning for a number of years thanks to the work of a group of individuals representing local outdoor recreation and conservation interests who developed its master plan. The first section of the local Trailway of nearly six miles will be completed this year. Leadership for the construction of the Trailway is led by the Calhoun County Trailway Alliance.
A third partner in the local trail is the North Country Trail. It is America’s longest scenic trail stretching 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota. It links 7 states, 10 national forests, and more than 150 public lands. The trail in Michigan runs 875 miles from the southeast part of the state northwest, across the Mackinac Bridge, before heading west through the Upper Peninsula into Wisconsin.
To learn more about the Bronson Battle Creek pulmonary and cardiac programs, call (269) 245-8438, or (269) 245-8188 for the cardiac program; or visit the hospital Website at www.bronsonbattlecreek.com.
Bronson Battle Creek is a 218-bed hospital that provides full outpatient and inpatient acute care including robotic surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services; 100% all private rooms. It also offers world-class diagnostic capabilities including PET/CT imaging, freestanding ‘open’ and traditional MRI, CT (16- and 64-slice), and 3.0 Tesla MRI. Bronson Battle Creek has been recognized nationally as one of the safest hospitals, and has been a leader in the development of electronic health records as evidenced by multiple honors as one of America’s ‘most wired’ and ‘most wireless’ hospitals. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and the only hospital in Michigan to receive the CoC’s Outstanding Achievement Award three times in a row. Specialty services include inpatient behavioral health, the county’s largest accredited sleep center, and a wound-healing center with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. For nine years, Bronson Healthcare has been included on Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies list as a leading family friendly employer.