Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical

Take a walk… it’s good for you

For this feature, I’m mixing it up a little. After having an absolutely fabulous outdoors, physical activity experience about a week ago, that took me way out of my comfort zone, I thought I would share my story and get you excited about walking as part of healthy living.
Power or speed walking is one of my most favorite exercises. I’ve always wanted to do this during the winter months, but like many people from warmer climates, there was a lot of reluctance. I even went as far as asking a Jamaican friend if she would be open to winter walking, the response, ‘meh?’ translation ‘me, are you crazy?’ I had to laugh, as it is a common response from friends who originate from countries with warmer climates.
However, about a week ago, I was chatting with someone who jogs during the winter on some beautiful trails in the Gatineau and Algonquin Parks (the former, essentially a huge forest with trails,) she suggested that we do a walk together.
I was racking my brain to come up with a really valid excuse why I could not go for a walk with her in the forest on a beautiful sunny winter day (yes, winter, snow and all, hardly any people), however, I could not come up with a single excuse fast enough, so I kind of grimaced and ‘yes, sure’ as energetically as I could.
I have not ever done any extensive walking in the winter, therefore was not sure what type of clothing to wear, so I layered. What about footwear? I simply put on some comfortable boots. In the end, this all worked out fine.
On the day of our walk to start, she takes me up a steep hill. I’m thinking, what have I gotten myself into?
However, two hours later, after going up and down hills, ducking under branches, barely seeing a soul in sight, trampling in pristine snow, experiencing the calm and serenity, wondering if my cell phone was adequately charged, and I must admit, being rather excited, maybe even relieved to arrive at an exit that I recognized and where I saw people – it was a nice experience.
I enjoyed it so much that I agreed to do a different, paved trail the following day, notwithstanding the snowy weather.
There were more people, yet still tranquil. I’m looking forward to checking it out again. Especially when the trees are in foliage.
Why am I sharing this story? Well to encourage you to move out of your comfort zone and start doing things like walking and enjoying nature, even during colder weather.
It’s so important for mental and physical health.
Most cities like Montreal have beautiful trails for walking, biking, rollerblading, and other activities.
However, let’s start by walking. Walking is one of the best exercises that almost anyone can add to their daily routine and can be done at practically any age.
Bonus, it’s free, you don’t need expensive equipment and if done well, the benefits abound. From helping with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, preventing muscle loss, lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, reducing your risk of chronic diseases, improving sleep and making your brain sharper.
It does not have to be a two-hour hike in the forest. Start with 20 minutes, but aim for 30. The next week, go a bit further. The following week, go a bit faster. The goal is to continuously challenge yourself, increase your heart rate and remember to slowly cool down.
You can also try interval walking. Research suggests a 3-minute warm-up, followed by 25 minutes of alternating walking as fast as you can for one minute, then one minute of brisk walking – aim for about six intervals on a scale of one to 10. Cool down for two minutes.
Wondering how you can get started? Throw a pair of walking shoes in your bag and walk home from work, especially now that many people are heading back into the office. If you live far from work, get off the bus earlier and walk the rest of the way home.
Go for a walk at lunch or after dinner. Grab a friend, spouse or partner and make it a regular activity. If you’re like me, grab a knapsack, put on some good music walk to do your errands and take the long way back home, or simply walk for exercise, it’s a great de-stressor. You would be amazed how well walking works for the latter. Try starting a walking club, it’s a great way to meet new people.
If you’re just starting to add walking to your daily exercise routine, remember to speak with your doctor before doing so.
Also remember to keep hydrated. Before your workout, focus on eating easily digested carbs like a fruit, Greek yogurt with a bit of granola or a piece of toast with nut butter, at least an hour before your workout. It all depends on what agrees with your body, as well as the length and intensity of your workout.
Combining activities such as walking and healthy eating can help you to achieve the most optimal health results.

Enjoy your walk.

Have questions on how you can eat healthier or about healthy living in general? Share them with us. Some will be answered here. Send your questions to: info@latropiqua.ca.

Marlene Roache, Healthy Eating Coach, Owner, La Tropiqua, Healthy Living-For Life www.latropiqua.ca