It’s that time of year again when we see an increase in people enjoying the outdoors. After a winter of hibernation for many, the longer, warmer days become a good time to get more active and explore what beauty lies all around us in the Alberni Valley.
For many people, over the winter, an extra few pounds (or 10) of weight may be an annoying reality of their less active winter lifestyle.
It’s amazing how a few more snacks or bigger portions at meals over time can add up to needing a larger pant size and/or punching another hole in the belt buckle.
Overeating during holidays and special occasions, snacking at night, skipping breakfast and mindless nibbling can all contribute to the accumulation of fat.
Long-term weight gain (especially increases in body fat) may be more than just a nuisance, it can be a negative strike against your future health. Diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, depression, sleep apnea, and certain cancers are some of the chronic diseases that can start or worsen with obesity.
Health Canada advises people of all ages and abilities to get moving.
The Canadian Society For Exercise Physiology helped to develop physical activity guidelines (from the best evidence available) to best show Canadians recommendations for activity.
Various forms of daily exercise are critically important for health, including cardiovascular/aerobic activity and muscle/bone strengthening activities. For older adults, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Muscle and bone strengthening activity at least two days per week is also important. Balance and flexibility exercise, such as yoga or tai chi will help prevent falls.
Walking is an excellent method to pursue regular activity for many. Depending on speed and length of walk, it can offer the intensity to increase your heart rate, as well as being a weight bearing activity to help keep muscles and bones strong.
If you like being in the forest and enjoy more challenging hikes, the Alberni Valley mountain trails have lots of variety (and inclines/grades) to offer depending on where you explore.
Walking around the street where you live or circling around a track, such as Bob Dailey Stadium are other ways to get yourself moving on a more regular basis.
Suggestions for healthy snacks to take along for an outdoor excursion could include trail mix (with seeds, nuts and dried fruit), a piece of fruit, yogurt drink, veggies and hummus, a sandwich wrap or cheese with rye crisps. Remember to always keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids throughout the day.
Refer to HealthLinkBC for a reliable, accurate resource for health and nutrition information.
What are you waiting for, it’s that time now to go take a hike.
Sandra Gentleman is a registered dietitian who is passionate about health and wellness. She is co-owner of Wild West Watersports.