Walk Calgary! Improving brain health on step at a time - by Lori Beattie

Published: Dec 20, 2016

Lori Beattie is the author of Calgary’s Best Walks, host of CTV Morning Walk Wednesday and the owner of Fit Frog Adventures, where she leads year-round city walks and hikes. Lori has launched a new book, titled, Walk Calgary. Lori has teamed up with the Alzheimer Society of Calgary to write a guest article on the benefits of walking. 

I love to walk, everywhere and anywhere. Walking makes me happy. I enjoy the fresh air, the time to think, and the freedom to explore. I also love the simplicity. You don’t need special gear or skills to go for a walk, just practical footwear, a few layers of clothes, and the ability to put one foot in front of the other: left, right, left, right.

There is something for everyone on an urban walk

Exploring Calgary on foot is ideal for anyone, no matter his or her interests. Taking a walk in the city can help you satisfy your desire to explore and experience wilderness, art, and gardens; rivers, reservoirs, hills and flatlands; as well as the urban core and quiet communities, on trails that end at a local café, restaurant or ice cream shop. It is this vast range of treasures in such a small space that makes walking in Calgary so enjoyable, so stimulating.

Walking is the perfect exercise for the body and the brain 

Findings from the brain-in-motion study* at U of C, show that “exercise is the only intervention that has been shown to have a disease-modifying effect for diseases of the aging brain like dementia or Alzheimer’s.” Taking a walk, or multiple short walks, in some cases prevents, and is most cases delays onset or slows the progress of most chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. And the great thing about walking is that, whatever your ability or level of fitness, you can still enjoy a walk by choosing a pace, location and distance that suits you, your fitness ability and your interests.

Taking a walk is a mood booster.  It makes you happy!

Stewart Longman, adjunct assistant professor, Department of Psychology, U of C, states “exercise has also proven to make people happier — unlike medication, which only makes people less sad — and to have a more lasting effect than pharmaceuticals, as shown in research.” Research also shows that adding a bounce in your step lifts your mood. You can trick your body into feeling happier, by walking like a happy person.

Wilderness walks in Calgary. Why a walk in the woods makes you feel so good

The most convincing argument for the peace we feel in nature is that the flowers and the birds never aggressively grab our attention. Walking in nature is calms the mind as it offers a break from distractions, giving our brains a break from our multi-tasking lives. Taking a woodsy walk in Calgary is easy as natural areas, both large and small, are integrated into all corners of the city. Calgary’s urban wilderness allows the walker to be immersed in nature without leaving the city.

Gain perspective and reduce stress

Walking outside is the perfect way to clear your head, to shake up your routine and put things into perspective. The fresh air and big blue Alberta skies do wonders for your mood. And if you are in a rut, if something is bothering you, then a walk is helpful to think through your options, to find a solution. And these mood enhancing positive effects last long after the walk is complete.

Get to know Calgary by connecting communities on foot, with friends and family

Walking is s a great activity to engage in with your friends and family. Enjoy a conversation, share a memory and story or simply observe and enjoy. Encourage friends to join you on your urban walkabout by promising a post-walk café or picnic stop. Walk through neighbourhoods and observe or interact with gardeners, front-porch sitters, or other walkers. See and be seen on a walk along a bustling commercial street. Interact with Calgary and Calgarians and feel part of our wonderful city.

Explore Calgary on foot-surprises await!

The fun part about walking in Calgary is the unknown, the surprises around unexplored corners. Having self-propelled mini-adventures in your own backyard will keep you healthy and happy.  Learning about new areas, close to home, gives you many more options for urban getaways to enjoy independently or with friends. So get out there and explore, find the hidden stairways, pathways, and independent neighbourhood cafés. Okay, let’s walk!

Stay tuned for more Walk Calgary: Improving brain health one step at a time program information coming soon!

Lori Beattie is the author of Calgary’s Best Walks, CTV Morning Walk Wednesday host and the owner of Fit Frog Adventures, where she leads year-round city walks and Rocky Mountain hikes and snowshoe days. As part of Canada’s 150 birthday celebrations, Lori has partnered with local charities to share her passion and for walking in Calgary. Learn more about WALK 150 at www.fitfrog.ca and www.calgarysbestwalks.ca  

Get in touch with Lori at lorib@fitfrog.ca , 403-229-4299 or on Facebook @calgarysbestwalks