Thousands of people will participate this weekend in the 8th edition of La Grande Marche through dozens of municipalities in Quebec to highlight the importance of healthy lifestyle habits.
The event is organized by the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie, in partnership with the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ), and aims to promote an active and preventive lifestyle.
In addition to the three major events held between Friday and Sunday in Saguenay, Quebec City and Montreal, some 100 municipalities answered the call to organize their own Grande Marche on their territory.
A hybrid formula was once again adopted this year to allow participants to complete the 5 km route from the gathering point in their municipality or from their home.
Founder Pierre Lavoie said he was “very happy” with the participation of the municipalities and said that all regions of Quebec were represented in the event, as well as reaching out to some Indigenous communities.
Lavoie hopes that La Grande Marche will send a public message of prevention to Quebecers and encourage them to move more.
“Today, the studies are there: we know that the next evolution in health will be through prevention,” he said in an interview. “We will increase the efficiency of our health and our systems by integrating prevention.”
The founder believes that the burden on the system could be alleviated by establishing a preventive culture throughout Quebec, i.e. by promoting an active lifestyle to reduce the risk of potential health problems.
“When we compare ourselves to the Scandinavians, we realize that we have reached the same level as them in terms of life expectancy. However, they enter their health-care system six to seven years later than we do,” he said.
Lavoie hopes to encourage Quebecers to prevent, rather than cure, by adopting balanced lifestyle habits as early as possible. By associating La Grande Marche with the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec, he also aims to highlight the role of health professionals in this fight.
“The first to take concrete action for prevention are family doctors,” he said. “There are 10,000 of them now in Quebec, in the field or in their offices, who have an influence on the patient, and who can offer him an alternative way, instead of prescribing Lipitor and statins to lower his cholesterol.”
As part of their partnership with Le Grand Défi, FMOQ members are called upon to prescribe more physical activity to their patients, including inviting them to join La Grande Marche. Last year, the event attracted 134,574 walkers across Quebec.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 15, 2022.