The New Year can come with big changes – some of them we initiate ourselves, and some we can’t control. For many people in co-op at UW, January means you’re starting a school term or starting a work term. It might mean that you’ve got a pile of resolutions to start on, ranging everywhere from cutting back on the 5 cups of coffee you drink a day to making healthy lifestyle changes to improving your marks. Maybe January just means you get a break from the insanity of the holiday season.
No matter what January throws your way, exercise can be a great way to push through the stress you encounter and help meet goals you’ve set for yourself. It’s a fantastic way to clear your mind, sort out things that are stressing you out, and is an important part of a balanced lifestyle.
The gyms are typically packed this time of year, which can be discouraging. Just because its cold out doesn’t mean you should limit your workouts and exercises to the indoors, though. There are plenty of options around the UW campus that might interest you.
For example, there’s a skating rink at the Uptown Waterloo square that’s free for public use. The iXpress will get you there from campus in 10 minutes. McPhail’s Cycle and Skate can rent skates for you to use at the rink.
There are cross country ski trails in Bechtel Park, the Laurel Creek Conservation Area Trail, and the Laurel Trail. The trail fees at the Conservation Area are $5, and equipment rentals are available for $13. Rentals are available on weekends, and are also available on weekdays if you call ahead.
The Grand Valley Trails Association (http://www.gvta.on.ca/index.php) leads hikes on local trails throughout the region. You have to become a member to become a part of GVTA, but the fee is only $30 for the season.
Finally: winter running. Waterloo keeps its sidewalks and roads relatively well-ploughed and salted during the winter, which means that most local runners don’t need to worry too much about slips and falls. The trails enjoyed in the summer are either ploughed or hard packed, meaning they can be enjoyed year-round if you’re not a fan of the roads.
If you’re new to winter running, or to running in general, here are a few tips to get started:
– Wear proper footwear. There are plenty of running stores in the region, including the Running Room in Uptown Waterloo and Runners Choice closer to Laurier. As many shoe manufacturers are coming out with updated shoe models at this time of year, you can generally find a good pair of shoes for a great price.
– Dress in layers. A good rule of thumb is to dress like its 10ᵒC warmer than it actually is outside. Athletic tech gear tends to be expensive, but there’s no rule that says you need to dress in lycra from head-to-toe to go out running. Track pants and a sweater are perfectly fine! If it’s windy try pulling on a pair of tights or long johns under your pants and wear a windbreaker over your sweater. As for hats and mitts, cheap cotton ones from Canadian Tire work just fine. If you’re near an MEC, you can usually find well-priced gear there as well.
– Sunscreen is just as important in winter as it is in the summer. Be sure to put sunscreen on your face to avoid getting a burn.
– If you’re worried about breathing troubles in the cold air, wrap a scarf over your mouth and nose. Breathing in warmer air will help keep your chest from feeling tight.
– If you’re running at night, bring a buddy! At the very least, make sure someone knows your route and when to expect you to return.
If you’re brand-new to running, try a walk-run program to ease you into things. Walk for 5 minutes to warm up, then ease into a run for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, take a 1-2 minute walk break. Then start the 3 minute run cycle again. Taking walk breaks will help your muscles get used to running without pushing them too far at first.
If you’d like to run with a group, EngSoc has a running group that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:00 pm on the POETS patio. 4 pace groups are available: walk/run, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. All skill levels are more than welcome!
Whether you try skating, skiing, snowshoeing, boarding, running, or any other outdoor pastime this winter, all are great choices and are sure to help you escape from the stress of school and work this winter. Grab a friend and give them a try – hopefully you’ll find something you can enjoy and stick with!