Three reasons to start walking right now
As the pandemic continues on with no guaranteed end in sight, many of us have deferred our travel plans and are staying at home this winter instead. Enter winter walks.
Why walk? And why walk when it's still cold? I never really loved walking before last year, especially during the colder months. During spring and summer I took up walking and got out on more hikes to avoid feeling cooped up. It was a good way to supplement my running and the occasional hikes that I did do and a nice excuse to get out of the house for a few hours. I also love the the feeling of doing something beneficial for my mind and body. There is nothing like it. It was also a good way to check out neighbouring communities and learn about trails and paths I had never been on. I suddenly found myself addicted to getting outdoors as much as possible.
Here are three reasons to get you out of the house and onto the trails!
1. It's easy to start.
Walking is so easy to get started with as long as you have the right footwear. Winter walking also requires a few layers and a coat and depending on the temperature I recommend mitts and a hat. Start with a short walk and gradually work your way up to longer treks.
2. It's good for you.
The benefits of walking are numerous. It's a low impact form of exercise, it clears your mind which helps with creativity and mental well being, it provides solitary time if you need time alone and depending on how briskly you walk, it can be a decent cardio workout. You also feel amazing while you're doing it and you feel triumphant when you're done. I have never once come home from a walk wishing that I hadn't done it.
3. You'll discover new places
Where to walk and when to walk depends on you. I enjoy just leaving my house and walking around my neighbourhood, nearby neighbourhoods, and on trails and paths in provincial parks. Being situated near the splendor of the Canadian Rockies and Kananaskis also opens of a wealth of amazing places to walk. Mix up your walking routes and look up interesting places to walk (good scenery, interesting buildings, paths in nature) nearby and you won't get bored.
I want to mention that a really good resouce is the All Trails app. This app makes it so easy to find the right trail or walk to match how long you would like to walk for, coupled with your preferred skill or comfort level.
Any time of day can be a good time to walk - I like wooded trails during the day when they're busier. Also, walking in the dark can be sketchy due to low visibility and slippery ice. My preference is early in the morning just before the sun comes up to take advantage of the quiet, enjoy the sunrise and enjoy the solitude before my day starts.
Things you will need for cold weather Canadian walks:
Lightweight hiking boots: Something with a decent tread that is waterproof and will keep your feet warm.
spikes or clampons: They're pretty hardcore looking but are great for trails and uneven terrain
Layers: You will warm up when walking briskly, but layers are essential. Don't forget good socks, a toque and mitts to keep your toes, head and fingers warm.
A good playlist or podcast (optional). When hiking, I enjoy listening to the sounds of my surroundings. If I do listen to podcasts or music, I always have one earbud in and the other out so that I can hear traffic and or what is around me. Stay aware.
Map my walk/run: I like this because it maps and saves where I've walked and shows me how quickly I've completed my route along with how many kilometres I've trekked.
I measure pretty much everything to see how far I've come and where I can improve. I love seeing how much longer my walks are these days. It's also a good reference if you have a certain amount of time and would like to take a trusted route that can be completed in the time that you have.
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