Stretching eases disease’s effects Montreal man walks across country to spread message on benefits of exercise

By Harold Carmichael
The Sudbury Star, Monday, September 13, 1999.

Life wasn’t very pleasant for Jacques Gauthier back in the 1980s.

Suffering from inflammation of the blood vessels (vasculitis), osteoporosis and arthritis, the Montreal man spent a lot of his time in bed and was in constant pain.

« All my joints were on fire, » he explained, during an interview.

Cortisone shots were administered to help ease Gauthier’s pain and give him some freedom of movement. Still, he lost the use of his left hand and arm.

But in 1989, a lumberjack showed Gauthier some stretching exercises and a transformation began.

Gauthier gradually increased his stretching sessions to two to four hours a day.

He improved so much that his pain went away and he was able to get on with his life.

« People were coming up to me and saying ‘what happened to you?’, » said Gauthier.

« ‘You are in such great shape’ I started giving stretching lessons to hundreds of people. »

Gauthier became such a proponent of stretching that he compiled his own video on the subject.

Two years ago, Gauthier walked around his home province of Quebec talking to people about the health benefits of stretching. Now 60, he’s crossing Canada in 1999 for the same reason.

« An investment of time is all that’s required, » he explained.

« It’s the best health insurance anyone can buy… once we become flexible, we improve our blood circulation immensely. We are giving more power back to the immune system. »

Gauthier started his walk in Vancouver March 29, dipping his toes in the Pacific Ocean. He is looking to do the same thing in the Atlantic Ocean when he reaches Halifax, N.S., in late November.

Gauthier is walking 40-50 kilometres per day. He and his wife Dorothée Lavoie sold their home in Montreal and purchased a recreational vehicle, which is being used during the walk.

Gauthier plans to conduct a similar trek across the United States next year.

« I found stretching and I want to share it with the world, » he said.

(Underneath photo) Jacques Gauthier, formerly of Montreal, is walking across Canada to raise awareness of the health benefits, which a regiment of stretching offers. He arrived in Sudbury on Saturday and left Sunday. .