3 Reasons to Start Walking this Winter
Canadian winters are long and as we all know, mother nature can be kind enough to grant us milder temperatures - or decide to do just the opposite, subjecting us all to freezing cold temperatures can last for days or weeks.
Do you get outside to walk during the winter months? Or do you ask why would one walk when it's still cold? I never really loved the whole #winterwalk thing, especially on very cold days but I have come to love walks during the colder months even more than the summer, if you can believe that. Here's how:
During pandemic 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 running and hikes and a nice excuse to get out of the house for a few hours. I also love how alive my body and mind feels when I am moving at a fast pace. It's also a good way to check out neighbouring communities and learn about trails and paths I had never been on and have only discovered by walking and curiously checking out a path I've never seen. I suddenly found myself loving and craving outdoor walks.
Read on for three reasons that'll get you out of the house and onto the trails!
1. It's easy to start and the cool air feels fresh and invigorating.
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. Let's be clear; I don't walk when it is colder than -20C in the city. Everyone has their cold threshold. That's mine. Keep walks very short until you figure out yours.
Start by walking around your block, a green space or provincial/urban park. For safety reasons, I love breathing the way I do when I run - in through my nose and out through my mouth. When I walk in the mornings, I feel energized and ready to work.
2. It's good for you.
There are so many health benefits that come from walking. 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. I'm curious and will walk down pathways that I've never seen to check it out. I've discovered so many different new routes to freshen up my routes.
Being situated near the incredible 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. Be aware of your surroundings; look around and be aware of your surroundings.
Things you will need for cold weather Canadian walks:
Lightweight hiking boots: Something with a good tread that will keep your feet dry and warm. These are the pair that I use and I absolutely love them. No matter how long I hike or whatever terrain I'm on, my feet have never hurt when I'm done. I will buy these again and again.
spikes or crampons: 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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Read: Calgary walking/run paths: St Patrick's Island
Read: Calgary walk/ run paths: RiverWalk
Read: Kananaskis day trip: Elbow Falls and Beaver Lodge trail
Read: Historic Inglewood walking tour
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