Working from home got you down? Spending to much time inside, sitting?
As we grapple with social distancing and our active options are limited, don’t undervalue the power of walking. Medical professionals have proven that it has substantial health benefits -- physical as well as mental. We know that it helps improve mood, remedy mild depression and reduce physiological stress indicators; not to mention cardiovascular benefits such as reducing blood pressure, weight management and lower blood sugar. It can also aid digestion and even help you sleep better at night.
Where you plan to walk can play a significant role in your experience. A large body of evidence links the benefits of green space to mental health. Green urban areas serve as a respite from traffic and concrete while aiding in relaxation and reducing stress. According to the World Health Organization, urban green spaces are essential to human well-being, both physically and emotionally.
Years back I worked with young students in Grade 4 who were “opting out” of their Physical Education classes. The purpose of the project was to understand why these kids were avoiding a class promoting physical activity. The kids helped me draw up a list of all kinds of activities and, by secret ballot, ranked them, with the top 10 being the ones they’d do.
I learned a lot from these kids! One lesson was “reframing”. On the bottom of the list -- the thing they least wanted to do -- was “walking”, but what topped the list was “hiking”! What was the difference, I asked? Well we WALKED down to the nearby river, WALKED along the banks while we skipped rocks, balanced on logs, and checked out the water looking for frogs and other critters. They reframed walking to be a different experience from hiking.
The lesson: Be mindful of what brings you joy and "reframe" your walk to be that experience: golfing, bird watching, geocaching, power walking, walking to music, checking out Winnipeg Rocks, mindful walking, walking your errands … walk the Greenway.
Bishop Grandin Greenway is a 5 km swath of green; a deliberate contrast to the concrete and the cars driving just to the south of it. A linear park ... an east-west active transportation corridor between the Red and Seine rivers. It is lined with grasses, burr oak, aspen, and river bottom trees; enhanced by Apakway, Eagles and Natures’ Haven ponds -- refuges for water fowl, and marsh and grasslands birds. Travel through a diversity of habitat zones: aquatic, wetlands, lowlands and uplands containing plant and animal life native to the area. You can walk it, skate it or ride your bike, but regardless of how you choose to experience it, you will nurture your physical, social as well as mental health.
Get up! Get out and get going!