by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Well, it’s January and I’m still in Ontario. It’s snowing right now and there’s about 4 to 5 inches of snow on the ground already but I’m not letting that stop me from taking daily walks through my neighbourhood.
Over Christmas vacation, I walked for almost an hour every day at around 3:00 in the afternoon going along the same path. There’s some green space in this neighbourhood and the various suburban streets are interconnected with nature trails, which I wasn’t expecting to find at all. Normally, I’d get on the path from the street entrance, enter the park, turn right, walk past the ponds and streams and trees and head over to the shopping centre. Then I walked around the whole parking lot, cut across the gas station and then looped back onto the trail again, walked up a hill, crossed a street, and down a hill and past my original starting point and carried on to the next exit which took me a couple of blocks further west past my house. Then I’d pass another big pond and ended up in the residential area on the streets again and walked a few more blocks back to my house.
Usually, the path has been cleared of snow but once it wasn’t and I got an extra work out from walking on an uneven surface, which I was grateful for. Walking on snow requires more effort and that burns more calories. Yay.
And some days have been super cold and windy. Thank goodness I have my big coat, hat, scarf, gloves and boots. Once it was so windy, I ended up running for about 20 minutes instead of walking and let the wind push me some of the way. 🙂 Running into the wind was another story. Try doing that with a 20-pound winter coat on your back.
As I was walking down the hill, I heard something different behind me. I can’t explain the sound but it caused me to stop in my tracks and look back over my shoulder. On the crest of the hill, there stood five deer, sun shining behind them. I greeted them with an “Oh, Deer.” They were about a standard backyard length away from me and I was able to count them. If only I had my camera!
I think I was in their path and the deer would have gone right where I was into the valley, if I wasn’t there at that moment. They decided to veer to their left, around me, and with like five grand leaps each, they whisked over the snowy terrain and quickly disappeared from my sight around the bend. It was quite a moment. Almost poetic. I felt like I was in a nature documentary even though I was in the middle of suburbia.
Now that I’ve returned to work at the wellness centre, I’ve decided to get my walks in first thing in the morning. It’s not easy getting out of a warm bed to go outside to walk for a half an hour or so, but I’m really enjoying my “Me Time.” I get to think, make plans, meditate, relax my stress, get exercise and fresh air and yes, enjoy my local winter wonderland — all for free.
And this morning, I saw two bright red cardinals playing and fluttering about and they looked stunning against the snowy backdrop. Again, I wish I had my camera.
I hope this blog post inspires you to find the time to take walks and explore your own neighbourhood. I recently came across an article about what they’re calling, “Sitting Disease.” Maybe you have heard of it already.
According to current thinking, too much sitting can seriously harm your health and lead to conditions like heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. And sitting for most of your day, everyday, may even shorten your life.
Standing is better than sitting and walking is better than standing and running is better than walking. If nothing else, get up off your chair at least once an hour, at least for a few minutes, just to move your body, especially if you have a full time desk job or spend most of your day sitting.
Here are some ways you can stand and move around more in your daily life:
- Stand whenever you use the phone (my sister-in-law does this — she paces while she talks on the phone and now her kids do it too!)
- Stand while ironing and folding laundry and other household chores,
- Stand while watching television,
- Stand during business meetings (I’ve seen people do this many times),
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator,
- Walk or ride a bike to work, school or the shops, (studies show that people who drive their car to work are heavier than people who take the bus, ride their bikes or walk),
- Park your car further from your destination and walk part of the way,
- Get on/off public transportation a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way,
- Stand up when riding public transportation, if possible (balancing in a moving vehicle will do wonders for your core), and
- Use any excuse like lunch time or coffee breaks or last minute errands to walk.
Now that you’ve read this, do yourself a favour: stand up, stretch and walk around for at least 5 minutes right now. I just did!
Happy New Year, everybody!