This week on Fitness tips I’ll be talking about the beauty that is walking your local trails. Living in B.C. I think most people have some form of a trail close to their house. I think that’s one of the best things about living in the lower mainland.
Walking my local trail is by far my most favourite exercise. I usually throw in some jogging intervals to boost my workout, but with all the variety in the terrain, walking trails is a great all around workout.
I usually hit up Aldergrove Regional Park since it’s so close to my house. Every time my husband and I go there, we say how lucky we are to live so close to it. No matter what the weather is doing, trail walking is still enjoyable, you just have to make sure to dress appropriately.
Staying fit and being safe
Walking is a really great low impact form of exercise that’s perfect for all ages and abilities. When you walk on trails you
get some great alternating terrain such as hills of different sizes which will help tone different muscle groups as well.
The terrain of trails is usually just great old mother nature, but I know at my local trail they have done some maintenance and there’s gravel in some areas. Either way, the terrain is much easier on your joints than walking on cement. I also love that the trees act as a cover from the rain or the hot sun during summer months.
Another benefit of walking the trails is that your heart and lungs will thank you, and it can help lower your blood pressure. I find being in nature very therapeutic and relaxing, and when you relax your blood pressure goes down. I also always recommend doing any trail type exercises with a friend or partner for safety reasons. You may lose your footing and slip, and I just think anything that’s a little secluded should never be done alone. Safety in numbers is always the best way to go. You should also watch your footing for large rocks, broken tree branches or tree roots that may be exposed.
Another consideration when walking your local trails is to dress appropriately for the weather and terrain. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes that don’t rub and that will have grip so you don’t slip. I also like to layer my clothes, it’s better to have to remove a layer if you get too hot rather than freezing or getting soaking wet. I usually wear my running jacket because it’s light, breathable and will keep me dry if need be, and then a t-shirt underneath for once I’ve warmed up.
I am a huge advocate for getting a good night’s sleep, and I believe exercise will help you do that. Exercise doesn’t have to be an hour in a gym or anything too strenuous, a brisk or gentle trail walk with the fresh air included will help you get your ZZZ’s each night.
Kick it up a notch
When I hit up Aldergrove Regional Park my goal is to get in the best workout I can. Sometimes that means looking at the map and deciding which route I will take depending on the length of it, and sometimes I am full of energy and walking at top speed and completing all the trails.
If you are fairly fit and want to boost your trail walk, a great option is to add some ankle weights such as these Empower 4lb Lighted Walking Weights. Wearing these on the descents and inclines will do wonders for your leg muscles, such as your calf muscles, hamstrings, quads and glutes. Because you’re still walking there’s no extra stress on your joints but your muscles will have to work a little harder to keep those legs moving.
Another walking accessory that has taken off over the years are walking poles. They can really help you with your balance and stability, especially if you are on uneven or rocky terrain. These World Famous Rockwater Nordic Walking Poles are made out of durable aluminum and can easily be used for other outdoor activities such as snowshoeing or cross country skiing. I would recommend using them if you have any issues with balance or want some extra stability for your joints. Adding them will also give you a small arm workout which is always a bonus.
Why I love it
Just like snowshoeing my favourite thing about walking my local trail is that it’s outdoors. Any time I can trade in a gym for the outdoors for my exercise I am happy.
Our West Coast weather has really allowed me to keep my workouts outdoors for a lot of the winter, this year especially. I
don’t do a lot of trail running in the winter because the crisp air just doesn’t agree with my lungs when I’m running, but walking has never been a problem. In fact my husband and I were out at 8am walking the trail when it was -5 during that really cold spell we had, and though I couldn’t feel some of my extremities when we finished, I felt amazing.
Walking trails is also a great exercise for the whole family. I always try to add a fun to twist to it to get my boys on board, such as making it into a nature hunt. I make a list of items or things I think, or hope, we will find along our way and get my boys to collect them. You can also get the kids to collect rocks to paint, or sticks to create something with a hot glue gun (mom supervision required of course) when you get home.
My youngest son is an animal lover and we always see a lot of dogs on our walks as well as horses, rabbits and even deer. If he’s really not feeling it, we invite friends along who have dogs that he can walk. It’s a win win for everyone this way.
Leave a comment below to tell me about your favourite local trail in your neighbourhood, I would love to hear about them.