February is Winter Active month here in Orillia. This presents a golden opportunity to improve our physical literacy, which means developing the motivation for, and understanding of, different types of beneficial movement.
The shorter days and sub-zero temperatures might make some want to hibernate and avoid winter altogether, but there really are so many perks to the season we can learn to embrace. Although the pandemic has resulted in the restricting of some activities we might normally enjoy during the colder months, there are great outdoor options that just might give you a refreshing sense of optimism while developing an even greater appreciation for the importance of preserving our natural environment. .
It’s vital to both our physical and mental well-being to get a minimum of 20 minutes of sun exposure daily to help maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin boosts our immunity and helps to prevent and treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also referred to as the winter blues. This seems more important than ever given the stress and challenges COVID-19 has brought to our lives. Besides, Netflix only has a finite number of shows, and it’s wise to balance the binge watching with some invigorating fresh air fun.
Enjoy Orillia’s Trail System
The easiest and most accessible activity for most people is walking or hiking. Fortunately in Orillia, we have the Lightfoot Trail system which runs 15 kilometre along the northeast end of the city. The 9.5 km portion that is paved is known as the Millennium Trail, which connects our beautiful major parks and is a segment of the Trans Canada Trail system. All you’ll require is some warm apparel. Optional equipment could be Nordic walking poles to enhance physical output (the added arm movement increases heart rate) or added grip tracks on the soles of your boots to prevent slipping. Both options offer added stability.
Snowshoeing is a slight progression from walking but appropriate for all fitness levels. Snowshoes allow you to trek over deeper snow without sinking. Again, if you use poles, you’ll benefit from greater balance and the arm pumping boosts circulation, which helps keep you warm. Tudhope Park and the Leacock property are lovely scenic areas to explore.
Ice skating can be great fun if you have the equipment, and given we are the city of twin lakes, there is always potential for a natural local rink. Bass Lake is known to have a smooth surface accessible along Line 15. Just be sure to stay close to shore and bring a shovel to help with snow clearing. Always pay attention to public advisories from local authorities regarding ice safety.
Yoga in the Snow
Now for a less conventional idea: snowga. Simply put, it’s the practice of yoga done in the snow. A uniquely fun activity suitable for any fitness level. All that is required is snow, an open mind and a playful spirit. Snow pants aren’t a bad idea as they’ll keep you warm and allow you to enjoy a more uninhibited experience- think back to when you were a child taking delight playing in the magical white stuff. Sunrise Yoga Studio will be offering two snowga experiences, Feb 20th and 28th, 1pm at the Leacock property to raise money for The Sharing Place Food Centre. This 6th annual karma event (any cash donation to participate) continues to grow in popularity although due to the current restrictions on public gatherings, it might look a little different this year. If the lock down does not lift by the proposed dates, it will be run virtually so those interested can still participate from their own back yards. For more information and to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopefully these ideas will motivate you to celebrate our winter wonderland safely and as much as possible, sustainably, in the great outdoors. And remember, keep your face always toward the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you.