Lifestyle is Medicine (and it's working)


October 12, 2021
American Journal of Preventive Medicine


see the study



Chronic Disease Innovation Centre
at Seven Oaks General Hospital,
in collaboration with
the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
at the University of Manitoba


Dr. Paul Komenda
Dr. Alan Katz

"This study provides proof that what we are doing at the Wellness Institute is working,” says Dr. Kevin Saunders, Medical Director at the Wellness Institute.

“Improving community health through medical fitness and lifestyle medicine is the core of what we do, and now this study proves that the model works. Hopefully, this will inspire more people to take charge of their health.”


Study Summary

The team found that membership was associated with a 60% lower risk of all-cause mortality, and a 13% lower risk of hospitalizations compared to the general Winnipeg population who were not members during the median follow-up time of 5 years. Additionally, compared to non-members, high-frequency attenders (>3 visits per week) had a 39% lower risk of hospitalizations, moderate frequency attenders (1-3 visits per week) had a 20% lower risk, and low frequency attenders (<1 visits per week) had a 9% lower risk.

Key Outcomes

Membership was associated with:

lower risk of death

fewer hospital stays

Members who visited more often per week had fewer hospital stays:

>3 visits 
fewer stays

1-3 visits
fewer stays 

<1 visits  
fewer stays

Key Demographics

The study included:

Active Members  


*Winnipeg residents who were similar in age, sex, income, and health conditions but were not members

Artboard 1

About the Study

Researchers at the Chronic Disease Innovation Centre performed a longitudinal study that compared health outcomes of 19,300 new members from two Winnipeg medical fitness facilities – the Wellness Institute and Reh-Fit Centre – to a group of 515,810 people from the general Winnipeg population over a 10-year study period. Researchers selected the control group from the health administrative databases held at the MCHP, by matching them against participants in the study group based on age, sex, income, and health conditions.

Previously, no study has examined the benefit of attending a medical fitness facility on long-term health outcomes compared to people who do not attend one of these facilities. The study concludes that healthcare systems should consider the medical fitness model as a preventative public health strategy to encourage physical activity participation. See the study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The Medical Fitness Difference

The Reh-Fit Centre and Wellness Institute are world-class medical fitness facilities that aim to improve the health status of members through evidence-based, medically integrated programming.

Compared to traditional fitness centres, these medical fitness facilities:

  • incorporate a greater degree of medical oversight, supervision, and guidance
  • include clinical integration with the health system;
  • require a higher level of staff education and training;
  • deliver programs to help bridge acute hospital care and long-term medical services;
  • feature robust emergency response and safety plans;
  • operate on a not-for-profit, mission-driven basis.

Study Partners