Away From Stress
by Kumari Campbell
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of us do realize that physical exercise is an excellent stress
reliever, but often the concept of physical exercise gets hijacked
by visions of designer clothing, state-of-the-art equipment and
expensive memberships. But there is a form of physical exercise
that is readily available to all of us who are ambulatory, and
it doesn't cost a cent. It is called walking -- or running, for
those of us who are slightly more ambitious.
an avid walker and I walk five kilometers a day, except when there
is snow on the ground. I try to walk daily unless weather or personal
commitments dictate otherwise. For me, I can think of no better
stress reliever than my daily walks. Be it a hard day at the office,
a family argument, a terminally-ill parent, or any one of the
many minor or major curve-balls life throws my way, I always feel
better once I have "walked" my way through it.
only does the natural beauty of my surroundings help me sort through
my worries by calming my frayed nerves and soothing my flagging
spirit, but the influx of oxygen into my lungs and the rush of
adrenaline caused by the exercise also gives me a sense of physical
well-being, resulting in a holistic solution to the problems caused
by stress. I certainly find my walks more rewarding than a work-out
in a gym.
September, the Trans Canada Trail was officially opened. It is
the longest continuous recreational trail in the world, with 16,100
kilometers spanning the magnificent landscapes of our vast country.
Most of this trail utilizes former railbeds. We are truly fortunate
to have such a tremendous resource available to us, to be used
at will and at no charge. In July, Prince Edward Island became
the first province to complete its section of the Trans Canada
Trail. Because ours is such a small province, we are even more
fortunate in that the Confederation Trail is readily accessible
to all our residents.
friend, Sara, is a runner. She runs daily on the Trail near her
home, in the early mornings, before work and before her young
family begins their day. She feels that nothing else can deliver
the sense of mental and physical well-being that she gets from
her running. "This is something I need to do for myself"
says Sara. "If I don't run, then my day just isn't the same.
If I miss a few days, I'm not the nicest person to live with."
is also a very social exercise for Sara. Although she regularly
runs alone, at least once a week (usually on Saturdays) she runs
with a group of friends. They start out together, but soon find
their own comfortable speeds and break off accordingly. Often
they fall into pairs. I asked her if they talk while they run.
"That's the best part of it," she replied, "we
have a great chin-wag, and solve most of the world's problems
on the other hand, began walking the Confederation Trail in an
effort to lose weight. She lost 40 lbs. in just three months.
But in the process, she learned that walking helped her with more
than weight loss. It had a calming effect on her nerves, and it
also gave her a renewed appreciation of animal and plant life
along the trail. Today she is an expert on the various bird species
that inhabit the sections of trail she uses.
fact, walking is becoming an increasingly popular form of recreation.
In urban areas, many seniors walk in shopping malls and schools.
Rural residents too, switch to schools, and even churches, when
the weather doesn't permit access to their favourite outdoor routes.
And although walking is relatively new to North America, people
on all the other continents (who have less access to motor vehicles)
have always done it as a matter of course.
truly is a "one activity fits all" form of recreation.
Whatever your needs are -- young or old; fast or slow; rural or
urban; physical, mental or spiritual -- you can design it to suit.
Campbell is the Executive Director of Island Trails and can be
reached at 894-7535.
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