..The Intuitive Times


Walk Away From Stress

by Kumari Campbell

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Many 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.

I am 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.

Not 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.

In 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.

My 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."

Running 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 to boot."

Margaret, 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.

In 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.

Walking 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.

Kumari Campbell is the Executive Director of Island Trails and can be reached at 894-7535.


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