WOW! It is 2020: A new year and a new decade are upon us. It is a time when many of us will be doing some serious reflection on goal setting. Let me help you with 10 suggestions for walking-related goals:
1. Resolve to walk more
Health professionals the world over are calling walking a
“wonder drug” for the incredible impact it can have on mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Here is a great article on the topic from Best Health Magazine: “Why Walking is the New Wonder Drug”. There has been a lot of new research on the incredible impact walking has on the brain. Read why a prominent neuro-scientist suggests everyone should switch up their gym workouts for outdoor walking: “It’s a Super Power!”
Special New Year’s offer: Join me in Canmore for my signature walking tour of Canmore. 20% off if booked before Jan 7 with discount code NY2020.
2. Try Nordic walking
If walking is a wonder drug, then Nordic walking is the extra strength dose! It multiplies all the wonderful benefits of walking. You turn what is primarily a lower body exercise into a full body workout. It really is like taking the gym with you as you use your core muscles (stomach, chest, back muscles) in addition to your shoulders and arms and legs with every stride you take. This causes you to burn more calories and has a much better impact on blood sugar levels than simply walking. In addition, your posture improves, your gait improves, you have better stability on all sorts of terrain and the stress on knees and hips and lower back is greatly reduced. Read more:
“How Nordic Walking Could Change Your Life”
“Experience Nordic Walking in Canmore”
Special New Year’s offer: Book a Quick-Start Nordic walking tour. 20% off if booked before Jan 7 with discount code NY2020.
3. Take Up Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is easy. You simply strap on the snowshoes and then forget you have them on your feet. Just walk normally with a heel-to-toe foot action. Start on a well-packed snowshoe trail, then gradually increase the effort and enjoyment by finding and walking on a slightly packed snowshoe trail. The pillowy “whompf, whompf, of walking on slightly packed snow feels wonderful! Once you have mastered the basics, move on to blazing your own trail if you are up for an intense cardio workout. Adding Nordic walking poles to the exercise greatly increases your stability on what can be very unstable footing and once again turns a lower body workout into a total body workout by putting virtually all the muscles of your upper body to work.
Here is an article I co-wrote with Urban Poling director, Mandy Shintani about Snowshoeing plus Nordic walking.
An important cautionary note for snowshoeing in the Rockies: Stay on any number of designated and signed snowshoe trails for your safety, unless you have taken at minimum, an Avalanche Safety Training 1 Course. Many hiking trails pass through dangerous avalanche terrain in the winter and should be avoided without the appropriate training. Alberta Parks and the Rocky Mountain Parks all have great information on snowshoeing trails and the current conditions on their websites. Another excellent resource is the Kananaskis Trails website.
Special New Year’s offer: Join me for a Kananaskis Country snowshoe hike. 20% off if booked before Jan 7 with discount code NY2020.
4. Get Out Hiking!
Walking you can do anywhere. You can walk on a treadmill, join a mall-walking club, or walk on an indoor walking track. But when you walk outside, in a natural setting like a park or along a recreational trail, you get the added benefits of Vitamin N(ature). These include boosting your immune system, reducing your stress levels and the release of “happy hormones” such as endorphins, dopamines and serotonin. When walking moves to natural environments, outside the urban built environment, then it becomes a hike and you get a mega-dose of Vitamin N from the sights, sounds, smells and feel of being immersed in nature. You will likely find your spirits soar and you are filled with joy and exhilaration from the pleasurable immersion in the natural world. The Canmore-Kananaskis area provides endless opportunities for hiking. There are trails to suit every age and ability, from easy, scenic valley trails to heart-pounding, ridge walking, summit reaching hikes. For lots of hiking ideas in the Rockies and around the world, refer to Hike Bike Travel.
5. Join a Walking/Hiking Group
For those of you who enjoy Nordic walking, there are many options. The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues has several walking groups in Edmonton. There are facebook pages for Nordic walking groups in Drumheller, Elk Point and Grande Prairie. For Nordic walking instruction, click on the “find a class” tab at the bottom of any page of the Urban Poling website. The Volkssport Club of Canada has walking clubs across the country. There is an Alberta chapter with seven clubs. In addition to regularly scheduled walks, they offer a variety of permanent walks (with maps provided) in towns across the province. For those looking for company to go hiking with, there are clubs across the province. Many are listed on the Alberta Hiking Association website. In the Calgary area, check out the Slow and Steady Hikers, who offer several hikes a week.
6. Explore the World on Foot
Go on a walking or hiking holiday. In 2018, I hosted an Exodus Travels Nordic walking holiday of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. You can read about it here. Exodus offers walking holidays around the world. Whether self-guided or with a professional guide, there is no better way to explore a destination, to really get to know the culture, to experience it intimately, than by travelling on foot.
Comfortable Hiking Holidays is a Canadian company that comes highly recommended, offering trips that explore the most incredible destinations on foot and, I might add, comfortably!
7. Explore the Rockies by Camping
If you have never tried a camping trip, you are missing out on something very special. Camping equipment has evolved over the years and is easy to use, providing a comfortable outdoor experience and one that is inexpensive. Camping immerses you in nature, like nothing else and puts you at the trailhead for the best hiking experiences, or actually on the trail! You can rent a complete set of camping gear in Canmore (or Vancouver) from Rent-a-Tent and get expert advice on how to camp and where to camp.
8. Go on a backpacking trip.
Some of the most incredible destinations on the planet are not along major highways or day hiking trails. They are out there in the backcountry. My Adventure Hub partners Get Outside and Uplift Adventures provide instruction as well as guided backpacking adventures in the Rocky Mountains. There is nothing quite like a backpacking trip to experience the wilderness!
9. Challenge Yourself
Taking on a walking/hiking challenge can increase your motivation and push you on to new and rewarding accomplishments. Here are a few examples:
Sign up for UWALK and track your self-propelled activity, joining in a number of challenges throughout the year.
Consider committing to the 52 Hike Challenge, join me in completing at least 52 hikes in 2020.
Participate in a walking event supporting a favourite charity. Here in Canmore, the Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Run/Walk is a popular event, supporting Fast and Female. It draws thousands of women from across the country to the most scenic of courses. Registration fills within days of opening on JANUARY 1st! I hope to see you there!
10. Don’t Be Shy! Share Your Story & Celebrate Your Success
Feel free to share your successes in the comments section below, or on my Active by Nature Facebook page. We strengthen each other when we share and celebrate. Add your goal setting ideas also. Happy trails everyone as we step forward strongly into a new year and a new decade!