While Calgarians find many ways to exercise, the most common movement is walking. We walk to commute, for exercise and for mental health. While we might not give it much thought, walking can provide a wide range of physical and mental benefits.
Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce excess body fat, strengthen bones and boost muscle power and endurance. It can result in better cognition and sleep and reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is free, low-impact and can be performed at your own pace. It also doesn’t require any special equipment.
According to a study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who do just 10 to 59 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking) per week have proven to live longer and healthier lives compared to those who are more inactive. Another study done in 2015 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that walking frequently can significantly decrease symptoms of stress, such as anxiety, fatigue, and lack of motivation.
With three types of walking, leisure, intermediate and advanced, there are options for all fitness levels. Leisure walking involves a speed of about 5km/hour, which is the average speed that a person walks in the absence of significant external factors. Intermediate-level walkers can take on anything from 6 to 6.5 km/hour, and advanced-level walking is done at a speed of 7km/hour or more.
The speed and distance in which you choose to walk is based on your ability, comfort and fitness level, but Gardner recommends that once you get into the habit of walking you should aim to alter your pace, which can lead to more health benefits. For example, walking at a faster pace for 30-second intervals then slowing down for another 30 seconds can increase your heart rate, which can help burn more calories and boost cardiovascular health.
In University District, a good route to take for leisure walking is around the north pond, which is just under one acre of open green space and paths that connect to the community. A neighbourhood favourite, this popular route also features an urban dog park, amphitheatre and fountain, making it a great spot for a casual walking retreat and time with four-legged friends.
For those looking for more of a challenge, an advanced walker can get their laps in on the green spine pathway, a linear pathway that connects University District from North to South and includes paths around the south pond. The Bow River pathway that links to Edworthy Park is a longer walk nearby, with beautiful scenery if you want to continue the adventure.
No matter what your walking style is, you can get your steps in on a variety of pathways and parks in University District and experience the many benefits that walking can bring. With 12km of interconnected pathways and 40 acres of greenspaces in U/D you might just find a new favourite walking spot!
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