How to Get the Spring Back in Your Step
Fitness guru, Jessica Power-Cyr weighs in on the benefits of outdoor workouts
Heather Macarone, Staff Writer
If you’re like a lot of people, you spend the winter in a hoodie on the couch under a blanket. It’s tough to get yourself motivated to stay active when it’s cold and snowy outside. It’s a lot easier to go on a Netflix binge than it is to get yourself to the gym. Now that it’s springtime, here are some tips to get yourself outside and active.
When it comes to getting started, Jessica Power-Cyr, a personal trainer and group exercise instructor, suggested slowly integrating regular fitness into your routine. “The best way for people to get started is with baby steps. Often I see people decide to get more active again by starting with a really great intention like a run and being so sore the next day, they never go out for a run again. Start by going for a walk. It will be more realistic and enjoyable. You are likely to do something again if you have a positive experience. Life is too short to do stuff we don’t enjoy. So make it fun,” said Power-Cyr.
When asked about the advantages of working out outside, Power-Cyr had a long list. “Fresh air, sunshine and much more! More and more research is discussing the benefits oxygen has for our cells. If you have more oxygen to your cells, your cells can do their job better and you’ll feel better. Also, as Canadians we tend to be Vitamin D deficient. Sunshine helps our body produce Vitamin D, which supports our immune system,” said Power-Cyr.
While the temperatures heat up, it is important to remember that Calgary weather fluctuates. Spring in Calgary can be a toss up when it comes to the weather. It can be warm or hot, wet or dry. One day it’s 12 degrees, the next there’s snow on the ground. No matter what the weather is like, make sure that you’re dressed for it. Don’t forget that while you’re out there you’ll most likely get warm, so make sure to wear layers so you could cool off or have a backup sweater in case you get a chill. Body temperatures are important to consider when you are focusing on being healthy. Exposing yourself to an unkindly temperature could subject you to a cold. Be ready to face the elements, wear a windbreaker, proper footwear and sunscreen if the rays are out. Your overall health and wellbeing is just as important as toning your physique.
Getting fit and in shape means so much more than just having an ideal summer body. There are many major health benefits to working out besides the physical appearance of bulkier muscles or slimmer waists. “Physical activity has been proven to help boost your mood, burn more calories which creates a healthier body composition and helps you maintain activities of daily living to name a few,” said Power-Cyr.
Take full advantage of the great outdoors and check out some outdoor fitness equipment. There are 10 parks throughout the city that have a variety of equipment from bikes to leg curl machines. These parks are free to use, so they are perfect for people on a budget. They’re located in all four quadrants of the city; Edgemont, Dover, Hawkwood and Applewood, just to name a few locations. Check out the City of Calgary (www.calgary.ca) website to find one near you. If you have little ones, their favourite playground could serve as your unconventional gym as you can do some pull-ups and use the bars and equipment in other ways.
Calgary also has close to 900 km of pathways and trails. The City even clears snow off 350 km of them, so they are usable even when there is snow lingering on the ground. Take advantage of any hills to really get your legs going and feel the burn. Enjoy the views while you’re out there too — exercising outside isn’t just good for you physically, but also mentally. From Fish Creek Park to Bowness Park, you can find beautiful pathways near you no matter where you live in the city. You’ll find you will be much more relaxed as you marvel at the distance you covered when you recall all the sights you took in as opposed to the digital kilometre counter on the treadmill.
With one of the hottest winters on record, spring is setting up to feel more like summer and you’ll be rocking your tank tops and shorts in no time. Make sure that you utilize your season pass and hit the slopes. The snow tends to stick around a little longer on the mountains and being able to wear less winter gear gives you even more mobility. “I love spring skiing. It reminds me of my childhood,” said Power-Cyr. Fresh mountain air mixed with the coming of spring is enough to energize and rejuvenate anyone.
However if you decide to come out of hibernation and get active this spring, take one step at a time and stop and smell the flowers. By doing something you enjoy and spending some more time outside you’ll find tons of health benefits.