Column: You’ve got to walk before you can hum

Nordic Walking 1a
Fitness instructor Lara Thompson (right) takes some people on a Nordic Walking excursion in this Morinville News file photo.

By Stephen Dafoe

The snow is going and melting ice is flowing – sure signs spring is on its way. There is no better time than now to grab yourself a good pair of running shoes and hit the trail walking.

I got serious about walking almost two years ago and subsequently set a goal of four kilometres per day, not overly difficult to achieve given my job allows me to generally walk wherever I need to go.

Though I fell short of that goal in 2012 by 150 kilometres, I still managed to put 1,313 kilometres of Morinville sidewalks, gravel and dirt beneath my Nikes. In the process I’ve dropped weight, pant sizes and the loads of stress we seem to carry around our necks these days.

I cannot tell you in words how great it feels to take in fresh air and clear your mind of a day’s problems. The solution usually kicks in about half way through my walk. I cannot tell you in words how great it feels to be able to easily find clothing in my size and multiple options rather than a couple of options stuck at the bottom of a store shelf. I cannot tell you in words why walking is great or what it does for you. So here is Pure Physique owner and fitness instructor Lara Thompson on the value of walking:

“Walking is the foundation for all other exercise because it promotes both increased muscular strength and endurance. Walking at a brisk pace – enough to make you sweat – helps to release toxins that are stored in your tissues, burn calories, improve the function and efficiency of your heart, and lower your blood pressure.”

If that is not evidence enough of the value of putting a little glide in your stride, Thompson says just 30 minutes of walking each day has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer by 30 per cent and increase the rate of survival by 70 per cent.

In addition to the physical health benefits of walking, I have found walking to be a great mental health helper as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder has long plagued me in the winter, making me depressed and moody. Some have referred to that trait in me as “a unique disposition.” Others have been less diplomatic, but I digress. Walking, whether under winter sun or winter cloud, lifts my mood above winter norms, and clears my mind the rest of the year as well.

Here’s Thompson again on the mental pluses of walking:

“Studies have also shown that exercise acts as an antidepressant and decreases the risk of depression. Cultivating a positive attitude helps people make other positive lifestyle choices, and less likely to use food to self-medicate.”

So put down the nachos and pick up the Nikes. Morinville has many kilometres of trail for you to go on a walkabout on.

As a ChooseWell community, Morinville is also active in getting people active. Two new programs coming down the trail this year are the Town’s Walk/Run With Us Club, an opportunity to stay fit and meet new people. It runs Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. from May 8 to June 26 at the Fish and Game Association pond trail. Another two new program, Silver Sneakers and Silver Steps-Walking Program, are aimed at seniors. They both kick off this spring. See the upcoming Morinville Spring / Summer Community Program Guide. It will be hitting your mailbox soon.

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