Tag Archives: Walking

3 Things I Love About Spring Hikes

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere now here in Ontario. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the photos I’ve been sharing there of our first flowers of the year.

It’s still a little too muddy and chilly outside to spend much time traipsing around out in nature,  but I’m hoping the weather will become nice enough to change that soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the joy of going on hikes or walks during this season. There are many reasons why this is the perfect time of year to do that. Today I’ll be sharing three of them with you just like I talked about my love of autumn hiking last year.

The Peace and Quiet

Toronto almost feels like an entirely different city in each of its four seasons. Things grow quieter here in the winter, especially once all of the December holidays have ended.

Summer is our busy, tourist season. There are certain parts of the city I don’t visit much at all during those months because of how crowded they are when kids are out of school and families visit Toronto. Tourists are always welcome here, but I’d rather visit familiar landmarks in the off-season than wait in long lines outdoors to see them in the never-ending heat and humidity of August.

Spring and autumn are transitional times. We don’t have as many tourists or warm weather at these parts of the year, but the weather can give us many unexpectedly beautiful days. It’s been my experience that there aren’t as many Torontonians venturing to a park or the woods in the in-between seasons for reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet.

At any rate, I like these quiet, peaceful days out in nature. Sometimes they start out cold and foggy but later turn out to have several hours of mild, comfortable weather in the afternoon. It’s always a gamble at this time of the year, but I like grabbing those few hours of decent weather when possible and using them to visit parks that haven’t yet begun to see their full stream of warm-weather visitors.

I’d also much rather go wander around outside on a day that is slightly chilly and overcast than one that may leave me sunburned or overheated by the end of it. To each their own on that topic, though.

The Outdoor Exercise

After spending the last several months exercising indoors due to a mixture of weather and health-related reasons, I can’t tell you what a relief it’s been to start doing some workouts outside.

There’s something so invigorating to me about feeling the sun and wind on my skin as I exercise. Watching all of the TV shows or exercise videos in the world can never replicate that sensation anymore than they can show what it feels like to greet a friendly neighbour you happen to run into while exercising outdoors.

Life isn’t always conducive to this, of course, especially when I had a sore foot a few months ago and needed to avoid slipping or falling while it healed.  With that being said, it’s a nice experience when possible, and I’m hoping to do it much more regularly now that I’m feeling like my old self and the sidewalks aren’t dangerously slippery for anyone who needs to be careful to avoid a fall.

The Scenery

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, spring is my favourite season of the year. Winter is cold, snowy, drab, and long here, so it’s always a relief when the temperatures rise and I begin seeing bright splashes of colour on the landscape again after the flowers begin blooming.

I’ve already paused more than one walk with my spouse in order to snap a picture of a flower or new leaf on a tree. Every bit of colour that’s added to the landscape makes me that much happier.

It’s going to be even nicer once I’m able to visit a forest that isn’t dormant at all any more! I can’t wait to see flowers, leaves, and grasses growing no matter what direction I look.

If you’re also a fan of hiking or taking long walks, what do you like most about it at this time of the year?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Hobby and Why

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 I talk about my love of reading and writing all of the time this blog, so I’m going to branch out and talk about some of the other stuff in this world that makes me happy. Oh, and I’m bending the rules and talking about two different topics because it was impossible to pick between them.

Board, Video, and Role-Playing Games

If we were all sitting together in a room and didn’t have Internet access, I’d probably ask everyone if they wanted to play Clue, Scrabble, or Life. There’s something so relaxing to me about the simplicity and predictability of them. I see playing board games as a chance to bond with friends, so I’d much rather spend my time chatting between turns than trying to remember a complex set of rules.

When I was a kid, my favourite video game was Pharaoh. It was a city-building game set in various points of Egyptian history. I loved deciding where my characters should build a pyramid and planning out the designs of my cities.

These days, I spend my video game time building homes, digging mines, and fighting monsters in Minecraft. As long as no monsters sneak up on me while I’m working, it’s a very relaxing way to end a day.

A few months ago, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons occasionally, but I don’t know enough about that topic yet to go into much detail about it. It’s far more complicated than I ever would have imagined!

Why do I love games so much? Well, most of the ones I play ask you to use your imagination. There are very few things in this world that I find more interesting than needing to do that.

Fitness

I’m a weightlifter. It’s a form of exercise I first tried about four years ago, and it’s made me feel so good to grow stronger as a result of this hobby. I’m a short and petite woman, so every bit of strength I gain makes a huge difference in how I look, how I feel, and what I’m capable of doing.

Walking outdoors – preferably as close to nature as I can get to as a city person – is another fitness activity that I really enjoy. I originally tried to get into running, but I found that long, brisk walks were much more my speed. I like being able to take in my surroundings and notice that squirrel darting up a tree or a neighbour’s dog playing fetch in the distance.

Talking about this is making me very glad that spring is around the corner. I can’t wait to go to the park again.

Why do I love working out so much? Well, it makes me feel really good. I get an endorphin rush from cardiovascular exercise, and I really like the way weightlifting improves my life. There’s something thrilling about picking up a heavy laundry basket or bag of groceries and realizing that they feel a little lighter than they did the last time you needed to do that chore. It’s almost like gaining a superpower!

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. This is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

4 Reasons Why You Should Try Walking Meditation

As anyone who has followed this blog for a while probably already knows, I’m always on the lookout for new meditation techniques. Recently, I discovered something called Walking Meditation that was so interesting I felt compelled to tell my readers about it.

 What Is Walking Meditation?

There are several different types of walking meditation out there: Theraveda, Zen (also known as Kinhin), Thich Nhat Hahn, Yoga, Daoist, and Mindfulness Walking Meditation. I’m going to focus on the last one  in today’s post because I found it the most helpful, but do feel free to click the link above if you want to explore other options.

Mindfulness Walking Meditation is quite similar to the types of meditation you’d do while sitting or lying down. You begin by doing something simple: taking a walk. Where that happens is entirely up to do. I didn’t always have a name for it, but it turns out I’ve been practicing Mindfulness Walking Meditation in many of the places I talk walks at: the mall, local parks, sidewalks, and even in front of washers and dryers on laundry day.

When you are walking, focus on nothing other than the sensations your body is feeling as you walk. Remain engaged with all of the things you can see, hear, feel, and touch as you walk. Do your best to call your attention back to the present moment every time your mind begins to wander.

Now that we’ve clarified what we’re talking about and how it’s done, let’s move onto the four reasons why I think you should give Mindfulness Walking Meditation a try as well.

Reason #1: You Can Do It Anywhere

You can walk and remain in the present moment in a noisy place or a quiet one. It can happen in a busy waiting room, a park, a corridor, or any other place where you can find a small area to pace or walk around in. You might be surrounded by thousands of other people or no one else at all.

Unlike some of the other forms of meditation, you don’t need to close your eyes or find a place to sit to do this one. I find that incredibly appealing.

Reason #2: It Gives Restless Meditators Something to Focus On

While I’ve grown more used to sedentary forms of meditation over the years, there is still a part of me that finds it challenging to stay seated for this practice.

The beautiful thing about walking meditation in general, including Mindfulness Walking Meditation specifically, is that it provides you with something to focus on that won’t distract from your goal. It’s so much easier for me to remain in the present moment if my legs are moving!

Reason #3: In Months That Don’t End in “uary,” It’s a Great Excuse to Spend Time in Nature

Yes, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here. Of course you could go on a long, meditative walk in January or February if you wanted to. Just because I stay indoors as much as possible during the coldest part of the winter doesn’t mean everyone must do that

There is something meditative about spending time out in nature even if you’re in a month that ends in -uary. One of the things that surprised me the most about Toronto when I first moved here was how many trees this city had, so I spend more time in nature than I thought I would when I became a city person.

There are small parkettes sprinkled throughout the general Toronto area, and we have quite a few large, well-maintained forests to explore as well. Walking through them is one of my favourite things to do in the entire world.

Reason #4: It Helps You Stay Connected to Your Body

Have you ever tried walking any distance when you have a pebble in your shoe? What is mildly annoying at first can quickly become  something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

One of the unexpected benefits of Mindfulness Walking Meditation that I’ve noticed has been how it encourages me to pay attention to what is going on with my body. For example, I recently figured out that I have a higher chance of developing a headache on days that I don’t practice good posture. This wasn’t something I was aware of before, but I’m now trying to correct it thanks to this practice. How cool is that?

If you’ve tried any form of walking meditation or are planning to in the near future, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic.

3 Things I Love About Autumn Hikes

This autumn has been an odd one so far here in Ontario as climate change continues to disrupt our normal weather patterns.

Early September is often still hot here, but the heat continued on through October this year. I was actually still wearing shorts and other summer gear as recently as a week ago!

Now the weather is jumping back and forth between unseasonably warm and cold temperatures from one day to the next.

One of the most noticeable side effects of this strange weather has been a delay in when the leaves began to change colour and fall off for the year. There are still quite a few trees with green leaves in southern Ontario even though we’re already more than halfway through October.

I’m hoping this will mean that we’ll have a delayed beginning of winter as well. There hasn’t been enough time to spend exercising while out in nature as I like to have when the weather is mild.

Hidden Details Being Revealed

Some of the trees in my neighbourhood have begun to change colour. Once the weather cools down enough for other species to join them, the landscape changes quickly as other trees follow in their footsteps. At some point, all of the non-evergreen

As much as I’ll miss the sight of green plants this winter, it’s always interesting to spot the now-abandoned nests that birds created when no one could see what they were doing up in those branches or to see how sparse a forest can look when all of the plants go dormant for the winter.

If I still wrote poetry, I’d write a poem about all of the things we might not have noticed when the year was still young. There’s so much room for inspiration when you visit a place you’ve been to many times before and notice something there that you hadn’t picked up on before.

Friendly Weather

I was originally going to call this section mild weather, but it honestly feels downright friendly to me after the long, hot summer we had. It’s so nice to go outside again without feeling like you’ve stuck your head in an oven.

Not only are the chances of suffering frostbite or a sunburn are lower than usual at this time of the year, October is a pretty pleasant month if you like spending a lot of time outdoors. Any shivering or perspiring is generally kept to a minimum, especially if you dress in layers and remove or add them as needed.

Despite my interest in fitness and nature, I’m not the sort of person who enjoys spending a lot of time outside when it is very hot or cold outside. This is something that confuses certain folks when they first get to know me, but there’s a massive quality of life difference between spending hours in the woods when it’s 15 degrees Celcius (60 Fahrenheit) versus -15 C (5 F) or 45 C (113 F).

To me, nature is something best explored during moderate seasons like spring and fall. Yes, they can both be unpredictable at times as far how quickly their temperatures can shift, but they’re generally the best times of the year to spend hours outside without suffering too many negative health consequences for that decision.

Mentally Stimulating Exercise

There’s a huge difference between exercising to a pre-recorded video indoors on a cold winter day and getting to explore the world around you when the weather is more agreeable.

I’ll get my workouts in either way, but I have to say that I find a lot more pleasure in exercising at the park where I’m surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of autumn.

Something as simple as hearing the crunch of leaves as I pass through them or seeing a neighbour’s dog stubbornly chase squirrels adds a little bit of joy to my normal routine. (Don’t worry – I’ve never seen a single dog catch a squirrel at my local park. The wildlife here is too smart and fast for pampered city pets to keep up with).

It doesn’t have to be anything exciting in order to catch my attention. Even subtle changes are enough to keep me interested in my surroundings as I exercise.

How does the changing of the seasons affect your workout routine? Will you be hiking or walking anywhere interesting over the next few months?

Why Walking in the Rain Is Underrated

No, this post isn’t a reference to any of the old, classic songs about walking in the rain. I actually hadn’t heard of Johnnie Ray or The Walker Brothers before I googled the title of my post to see what others were saying about the idea of taking a walk on a rainy day.

This past weekend saw Toronto celebrating the end of Pride month with a street festival and series of parades for the LGBT+ community.

The weather at the end of June can be unpredictable here. Usually, it’s hot and sunny during Pride Weekend, but every so often it’s rainy and cool for the festivities. This was one of those years when some people wore light jackets to stay warm and I’d wager that nobody ended up with a sunburn.

Streets that are normally packed with so many people you can barely step a foot in any direction while Pride events are going on were actually half-empty this past weekend. I could walk up and down the street without accidentally being jostled into anyone, and this was even more true once it began raining harder than it had been earlier in the day.

As I wandered around looking at the various booths, I realized just how much I like walking in the rain for a few different reasons.

Moving Slowly, Paying Attention

Cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians generally all slow down when it rains. While Toronto’s streets are looked after pretty well in most cases, rain can make even the nicest street unexpectedly slippery if there’s been a motor oil spill or if it’s precipitating heavily.

My city is normally such a busy, bustling place that I relish it when we all get the opportunity to move a little slower and notice things on a street that I might not have picked up on before. There is something satisfying about exercising your body and mind at the same time through walking and paying closer attention to your surroundings than the average person might on a warmer and drier day.

For example, the sides of certain buildings in Toronto are decorated with massive murals or other works of art. Some of it was either  high-quality graffiti or was specially designed to look like that style of art. Other paintings were probably officially commissioned by the city due to how long they’ve been around and how visible they are from the street.

No matter how long I live here, I continue to be occasionally surprised by the pockets of art that can be found in the most unexpected places. It makes me smile to notice something new while out on a long walk.

It’s Quiet and Peaceful

Rain seems to chase people away from the outdoors more than almost any other type of weather. I understand the desire to stay indoors during a violent thunderstorm, but I’m sometimes surprised by how even a light sprinkling of rain is enough to keep many folks from enjoying a park, Pride festival, or other outdoor activity.

The streets are so much quieter when it’s raining. Areas that are generally quite busy on a clear day are much less crowded on a rainy one. I’ve noticed that the ordinary sounds of city life – from a door slamming to the distant sound of someone loudly listening to their favourite music without headphones – seem to be muted as well.

There is something incredibly peaceful about walking around in such a quiet environment. I don’t normally notice the background sounds of city life unless something incredibly unexpected and loud happens, but it’s refreshing to see just how quiet an area can be when there are fewer people milling around and when sounds seem to carry for shorter distances.

The World Looks Different on a Rainy Day

This might be the fiction writer in me peeking out here, but I’ve long thought that the world looks different from normal when it’s raining outside.

The colour of a building often darkens when its wet. I’ve noticed this the most with structures made from wood, stone, or other natural materials. To make this even more interesting, I’m not the sort of person who typically pays a lot of attention to architecture or design. It’s only when a house or building has had it’s exterior changed in some way that I’ll be more apt to stop, pause, and pay attention to the way it was put together and how it looks different when it’s wet.

Clouds change the way an area looks as well. For example, a thick enough patch of fog can appear to erase buildings entirely. There have been times when I’ve looked out the window and been unable to see what was on the other side of the street due to how foggy it was here in Ontario. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve no doubt seen an occasional reference to this from me. It makes me smile every time it happens.

There’s something a little magical about walking down the street and not being able to see the top of a skyscraper or tree. If the kind of magic that exists in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings were to suddenly appear in our world, I’d like to think it’s first act would be to play around with what us humans can and cannot see when we’re outside exercising on an overcast day.

Even if you stick to what is currently possible in this world, it’s still cool to notice all of the changes in an area when rain, clouds, fog, and other natural weather phenomena change what we can see, how far we can see, and even how quickly we move.

How do you feel about walking in the rain?

 

 

My First Outdoor Walk This Spring

My first outdoor walk this spring happened this past weekend. Since it isn’t possible to magically transport one’s readers to Toronto to experience this for themselves for half an hour, I’ll tell you exactly what it was like. The wind had a slight cold snap to it, and I shuddered a little bit every time… Read More

6 Ways to Stay Active While Travelling

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! If any of my readers will be travelling anywhere soon, I hope you have a safe journey. One of the tricky parts of travelling is figuring out how to adapt your daily routine to all of the new experiences that come with visiting another place. Between spending… Read More