The Virtual Vine Blog

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 Tags: Physical Health

“I’m bored.” When I was young, those fateful words earned my siblings and me a list of household chores to do or an order to go outside and amuse ourselves. Exit stage left!

Fresh air and exercise have long been prescribed for children’s health and well-being, not to mention parental sanity. As a society, we often tend to place more importance on our productivity, the bottom line, etc., and neglect our physical and mental well-being as a result. 

But there are significant benefits of fresh air and exercise to improving our mental health. It's time we prioritize fresh air and exercise. 

Getting outside in the colder months

Getting exercise and fresh air when the weather is warmer seems easy enough, but when it's colder outside, it seems more daunting a task. Yes, there is weather to dress for, but it’s still possible to embrace this season that makes us proud to call ourselves Canadian.

Winter sports enthusiasts rejoice! Building one’s own backyard rink of dreams is a hugely popular pastime. Popular yes, potentially pricey too with custom rinks costing upwards of thousands of dollars. But there are options for those of us on a budget. Outdoor skating rinks are a great way to take advantage of the beauty of the season. You can always use indoor skating rinks to get moving and build up your stamina. Skis, skates, snowshoes, and the increasingly popular fat bikes are great ways to take advantage of the outdoors. 

Simplicity works too. Dig out your cozy socks, layer up the fleece and wool, and top with your favorite toque – you probably already have everything you need to enjoy the season. From neighborhood parks to walks around the block to wrestling with the kids in a backyard snow fort…you’re outside, you’re moving, and that’s a good thing.

Fat bike or brisk hike: no passport required!

Wherever you may be, chances are there are parks and trails open year-round for you to take advantage of. If you're in the greater Ottawa area, we encourage you to check out these hikes: 

Stony Swamp Conservation Area

Located on National Capital Commission land in Ottawa's west end, Stony Swamp features 40 km of trails ideal for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. It’s the most ecologically diverse protected area in the Ottawa Valley. Free parking all year round. Info and maps available here.

Pinhey Forest Trails

Centrally located just behind the Nepean Sportsplex, you’ll find an easily accessible 3.5 km hiking route through a conifer forest. Also, open year-round with free parking. Shout out to Mr. Pinhey, who donated the land in 1948 so that it could be used to demonstrate conservation practices. A much-appreciated natural outdoor respite, especially this year! Details and maps here.

Manitou Hiking and Snowshoeing Trail

A little further west of the National Capital, Calabogie Peaks boasts a fabulous network of hiking trails that cross over thousands of acres of Crown Land. Manitou Mountain is a 9 km, medium-level difficulty hiking/snowshoeing trail passing through picturesque pine forests, ancient glacial spillways, and three spectacular mountaintop vistas. More information and details can be found here including this Eagle's Nest hiking guide

Follow the science to a healthier you!

There’s no shortage of science to prove the benefits of fresh air and exercise. Studies have shown spending time outdoors can improve blood pressure and heart rate, boost the immune system, reduce obesity rates, and strengthen family ties. Fresh air sharpens the mind and cleans the lungs. Best of all, outdoor exercise can be adapted to anyone of any fitness level. 

A brisk walk or hike in nature can do wonders for your soul. Step one is simply stepping out the door; there’s no passport required to a happier, healthier you.

So, get energized, get moving, and get out there and play!

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