Winnipeg's Reh-Fit Centre has been named the best medical-fitness facility in the world this year.
The centre at 1390 Taylor Ave., was chosen as the recipient of the 2012 Certified Facility of the Year by the Medical Fitness Association (MFA). The international award is presented annually to a certified medical-fitness facility that "serves as a benchmark for the industry and whose results others can emulate."
There are currently only 44 medical fitness facilities in the world and the Reh-Fit Centre is the only one in Canada. In June, the Reh-Fit Centre announced the MFA had recognized it as Canada's first and only certified medical-fitness facility.
The centre works to develop fitness programs for clients but also works with people dealing with illness and their doctors to develop health and fitness plans to make patients less reliant on medical care and prescription drugs.
Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said facilities such as the Reh-Fit Centre are helpful for people dealing with illnesses, but can also lead to huge cost savings for Manitoba's health-care system.
"If we got another 10 per cent of inactive people active, we would save between $400 million and $600 million per year," said Rondeau. "That's very considerable. You don't even have to use facilities like this. If people just walked and did things to get their heart rate up it would help.
"The amount of money we can save on health-care costs by changing the behaviour of 10 per cent of the population is unbelievable. We need to move fitness into health and make sure exercise is medicine."
Rondeau said the facility should be a source of pride for Manitoba.
"This is the best facility of its kind in the world."
David Holt, 66, has been using the Reh-Fit Centre's facilities for seven years. When he was diagnosed with angina, his cardiologist suggested the centre -- and positive results came quickly.
"I was having very bad chest pains, and I noticed it was getting better within a couple of weeks after I joined," said Holt. "It felt great because when I was younger I could walk for miles a day, but it got to the point where I could only walk half a block without running out of breath."
Holt said the key to the success of the Reh-Fit Centre is not just exercise, but also education.
"The cardiac program here is one where you spend a month in a classroom," he said.
"They teach you nutrition, they teach you medicine and they teach you how the heart works and the various problems with the heart, and then you go out on the track and gradually increase each week the amount of exercise that you do. They make sure you know how to do it, and once you have it down, they leave you on your own to do it."
Holt said his health would have deteriorated without the Reh-Fit Centre, adding anyone dealing with illness should consider using the facility.
"It's the best program to be in. You don't have to be afraid. The staff are friendly. They're knowledgeable."
$400 million-$600 million: The amount minister Jim Rondeau said Manitoba's health-care system could save if 10 per cent more of the population were active.
1979: The Reh-Fit Centre was founded by Dr. David Mymin and housed in a 250-square-foot room with one treadmill in the St. Boniface Hospital.
June 13, 2012: The Reh-Fit Centre was recognized as Canada's first and only medical fitness facility.