Good day! I hope you all had a great long weekend and enjoyed your Easter.

This week I’d like to focus on exercise and nature and how it helped me through my struggles. Everyone has heard that exercising helps relieves stress, but it can be hard to fit in to our busy lives. The nice thing about physical activity and exercise is that it can be done anywhere and simple changes can make a big impact. Taking the stairs, walking to the store or stretching first thing in the morning are all examples of little changes that will help your body feel better. If you add some activities to your daily routine, you will feel less stressed and likely have more energy to get on with your day.

When it comes to exercise, people believe that you need to spend hours in a gym. If you want to, of course you can, but it’s not necessary. Most of us don’t have hours and hours in our day to spend at the gym. Instead, start with walking. You can walk outside on a lunch break or after work or on weekends.

When I was feeling pretty down and was not working regularly, I would try to make sure to go for at least a 30-minute walk every day. When I first started this walk I would go to a campground in La Ronge called Nut Point. The 3 loops of the campground and back to the vehicle was about 4-5 km. The first few times of this walk, I would be able to only do the first loop before I felt panic and have to head back to my car. I didn’t know it at the time, but the fresh air, exercise and daily routine were helping me to overcome these feelings. Each day I would meditate, make a list of what I wanted to get done and head out for walk to start the day. Eventually, I was able to complete the 3 loops. Walking turned into jogging. Then the jogs would go farther and farther. Before I knew it, I was jogging or walking at least 5 km on a regular basis.

Another huge part of this exercise was that it was outside – and I wasn’t sardined into a gym with 100 other people. The gym can be a great place to exercise and weight train, but sometimes it can be intimidating and hard to get into a routine because they can be so busy. Being outside in nature helped me to feel more grounded and the fresh air was good for me. Although Nut Point is not fancy, it is one of my all-time favorite campgrounds and one I’ve been to since I was a kid. When you are feeling anxious and down, it can be hard to commit to a long trip somewhere and start exploring somewhere new. The familiarity of Nut Point, along with the fresh air and the exercise, would help me each day to ward off the stress, worry less and feel “normal.”

I haven’t ever been a marathon runner, but I have always enjoyed running. When people ask why I stopped running my usual answer is that it’s hard to run outside when we’re the coldest place on Earth. That and Vancouver had a little nicer views for a morning run. These might be true, but they are also excuses.

If it’s that cold, I could run on a treadmill. And while nice views are great, they aren’t essential to getting some exercise. Exercise, like self-care and stress management, is a habit that you can develop by starting small, listening to your body and pushing yourself to the next level each time you do it.

Training for the Step Up Run has encouraged me to stop making excuses and to start running regularly again. It’s also something I’d like to continue doing long after the May 11th run. My dad has always been bugging me to run a marathon like him someday, so maybe this could be a good start to long distance running for me.

Thanks for coming back each week, and I will see you all again next week!