Your Health

It's summer

Get out and enjoy it!

It's summer - Get out and enjoy it!

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, Summer 2011

Now that the kids are out of school and summer is in full swing, many Manitobans are looking for ways to get outside and enjoy the glorious weather.

And why not? The long, sunny days make it easy for anyone to get a bit of fresh air and exercise with your partner, friends or family. With that in mind, we talked to Manitobans about what they like to do during the summer to keep active. Here is what they had to say:

Two-wheeled freedom

Although Janice Lukes had a bike when she was growing up on a farm in the Gunton-Teulon area of Manitoba, she didn't really become an avid cyclist until she moved to Winnipeg.

"Cycling makes me feel so good. It's my psychologist, ensuring my mental health," says Lukes.

She even took time to cycle during her travels abroad, particularly in Nepal, India and Vietnam, where there are more bikes than cars on the road.

Her love-affair with the bike cooled off a bit when Lukes had her triplet boys (now eight years old). But once the boys were old enough to ride along with mom, it didn't take her long to get back on a two-wheeler. "It was a glorious day when the kids were old enough to ditch the training wheels," says Lukes. "For our family, cycling is about spending time together, exercising, and burning off some of the boys' energy. Cycling is a good time, any time and any place. There's the freedom of fitting it into your schedule where you can."

Deanna Betteridge, a co-ordinator with Winnipeg in motion, agrees that cycling is one of the best ways to keep active during the summer. "Getting out on your bike has good cardiovascular and strength benefits. It's a good workout for your heart, lungs and lower body muscles," she says. "It's also a nice break from the responsibilities of life. You can do it with your friends and family or with a club."

In Winnipeg, there are many multi-use pathways perfect for cycling. As well, during the summer on Sundays and holidays, streets like Wellington Crescent and Wolseley Avenue are closed to vehicle traffic and dedicated to cyclists.

Oh, and one more thing, says Betteridge. "Don't forget to wear your helmet."

The ultimate summer game

André Nault has always loved throwing around a Frisbee.

So this summer, the 23-year-old University of Winnipeg student took his passion to a new level by getting some friends together to form an Ultimate Frisbee team. He and 13 friends now spend their Wednesday nights playing. "Joining was a great excuse to get moving," says Nault. "Ultimate is a pretty fantastic experience. It's a great workout, it's high energy. Summer is short, so you have to take advantage of it."

Those interested in playing Ultimate Frisbee can register with Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports (MODS) or the city's recreational league.

Nault says the sport includes a great community of friends, old and new - people who enjoy getting together to have fun. "There are teens to 40-somethings running and dodging, but we encourage people to be kind to their bodies, no matter what. In the league, you can go hard or play two full lines, so the physical toll on your players is easier."

To play, all you need is a pair of runners or cleats so you don't slip. Discs and cones to mark the fields are provided by Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports (MODS). There are 14 players; each team has seven players on the field at any one time, usually three women and four men. The teams are made up of players with similar skills and fitness levels. Teams are always looking for girls, says Nault.

Betteridge says Ultimate Frisbee is one of the city's fastest growing sports. But there are also many other summer league options, like slo-pitch, softball, flag football, and soccer. Whether you are interested in playing recreationally or more competitively, there are opportunities. "Join a team. Get out. Get active. People of many ages, skill levels and fitness levels are playing in summer leagues. You'll increase your fitness and your social network and have fun."

Take a hike

Sometimes, says Carole Clarke, it's just a good idea to take a hike.

Try a brisk walk through the city. Or perhaps you could head out to a park. You can do it by yourself to be alone with your thoughts, or you can do it with a friend.

"I love walking," says Clarke, a 68-yearold retiree. "I enjoy the exercise, the fresh air, the scenery. I love hiking trails and St. Vital Park. I've walked in Mexico and in Kananaskis, Alberta. It's nice to get outside and spend some time clearing my mind, in prayer and thought."

Clarke was a lone walker until she joined Prairie Pathfinders, a Winnipeg hiking club, this spring. Now, she also enjoys walking with a group of new friends. "The camaraderie is enjoyable."

Wendy Helsinger joined Prairie Pathfinders last fall, after she retired. For her, walking with the club a couple of times a week is great exercise and a commitment to walk with others at a designated time. "It's great exercise with great people. On the walks, I have seen parts of the city I have never seen before. The club helps me to get moving. I make lots of new friends, and I have been to The Forks many times and visited other places I wouldn't have walked on my own."

Betteridge says spending time on a long walk or hike in nature, alone or with friends, is simple exercise and recreation that's good for the body, mind and spirit. It works the heart, lungs and lower body muscles. Add a pair of hiking poles to increase your balance, lighten the load on your joints, and get in an upper body workout too. Make sure your poles are adjusted correctly for your height. Check out for more information.

The glory of golf

Harold Swick started golfing 25 years ago and grew to enjoy his regular games with friends.

More recently, a virus attacked and dissolved two vertebrae in his spine and his mobility was significantly impaired. For a time, he was saddened at the thought of never being able to golf again. He was in a wheelchair and now uses a walker and hand controls in order to drive his car.

But the 65-year-old is back in the swing of things, thanks to the MAGIC cart. The Manitoba Adaptive Golf Initiative Coalition raised the money to buy a specialized adaptive cart like the ones available at many public golf courses in the United States. During the summer, the cart is available at Larter's for anyone to try.

"I don't golf the same way as I used to. I had to re-learn, adapt my clubs, but I am back at it," says Swick.

The cart arrived three-and-a-half years ago. Its seat turns 360 degrees and tilts, so the golfer can play seated or supported as needed. "I line up the cart, tilt the seat so I am in position, and get a good swing at the ball. I can stand supporting my legs or golf sitting down. I could swing with one hand. People in different situations can use it. I had excellent support from my family and friends. It gives me a chance to use my upper body for good exercise and mental therapy."

The cart is operated with hand controls and can travel the entire course, except for the woods and water. Larter's offers a special rate for those who use the MAGIC cart.

"It's really great to get out with friends and family, out in the fresh air. It's a good way to spend four or five hours in the sun. We can make a day of it, have lunch afterwards." For those with limited mobility, Swick recommends trying out the MAGIC cart. During the winter, the cart is at the Golf Dome.

For everyone else who would like to give golf a shot, he suggests getting a feel for it by shooting some balls at your local driving range, or playing mini-golf or a nine-hole golf course like Shooters or Harbourview first, if you are uncertain about playing a full 18-holes.

Playing a game with friends and family is much more interesting than watching golf on television, says Betteridge. "Get your exercise by walking the course. Enjoy being outdoors and socializing, as you learn the game or improve your skills."

If you are new to golf, consider renting or borrowing a set of clubs and perhaps taking lessons. You can also check out variations on the traditional game, like mini-golf and disc golf, played with a Frisbee tossed into baskets.

Work it out

No time to get active this summer?

Have you considered how you get to and from work? How about how you do errands like grocery shopping?

Canadians are increasingly finding that active transportation, which covers any form of human-powered transportation, is a terrific way to get a little activity into your working day.

Lynn Campbell is a case in point. For the past six years, the 56-year-old St. Vital resident has used a combination of walking, cycling, taking the bus and carpooling with others to make her way to and from work. On occasion, she takes her car, but only when she has meetings extending beyond business hours and in other distant parts of the city.

"I got into it for fitness, to help the environment, and to save money on fuel," says Campbell, who also opts to walk to destinations within her own neighbourhood, as long as she does not have to transport heavy items like a full load of family groceries.

Campbell was inspired by a former coworker who walked to work. So, when she was still driving her daughter to school in St. Boniface, she decided to park her car there and walk downtown and back each day from work. Later, she started to bus and walk part-way to work.

From April to October, she walks all the way to work at least one day a week, and she is working at increasing that to two days. On her walking days, she takes the bus home. It takes her an hour and a half to walk to work, but she chooses a scenic route through Riverview and along the river as much as possible.

In the summer, she also rides her bike to work most other days. In the winter, she carpools to work with her neighbour and takes the bus and walks home. "I enjoy walking to work the most. The hardest part is getting up earlier because I have to walk my dog first. Taking a scenic route gives me peace of mind. I am more peaceful than when I drive. I am also more fit and I feel great. Walking really helps with the aches and pains. I make an effort to incorporate it into my day, walking around downtown to meetings and The Forks, and in my own neighbourhood." Betteridge says integrating active transportation on your way to where you would be going anyway is a fun way to get out and get active. For shorter trips, walking or cycling is a great option. For longer trips, consider driving part-way and riding your bike the rest of the way. Or, take the bus, but get on and off a bit further than usual from your destination either way so you get in a good walk en route.

Take the plunge

Few workouts are as refreshing as going for a swim.

Whether you are heading to a pool or taking a dip in the lake, swimming is a great way to get active this summer. That's particularly true if you are looking for an exercise that is easy on the joints.

Doug Robinson, for example, swam competitively as a teen. He was a lifeguard and city pool swim instructor but quit the pool soon after high school. Later, he ran for many years until he had to quit running because his hip was worn out. "The cartilage was gone. It was bone on bone and very painful," says the 50-year-old owner of Drive Line Services - a sales rep company.

For a year and a half, he gave up his regular physical activity and realized how much he missed it. "I felt lousy. I like to get up and work out. It sets the pace for the whole day. Without exercise, I don't perform as well. I feel sluggish." So he jumped back into the pool.

"After a swim, I am more productive and I feel way better."

At first, he could only swim four lengths of Concordia Pool at a time before he had to stop for a rest. "It was very humbling. It could have been easy to stop. But I needed something to do to get going."

He kept at it. Within six months he could swim steady for about an hour. He continued to lap swim in the morning at Concordia until he joined the Manitoba Masters Aquatic Club in 2000 because he wanted to compete and get serious about swimming. In 2007, he was the Canadian champ in his age class in the 400 IM at the Masters Swimming Championship in Winnipeg.

Betteridge agrees that swimming is great option for anyone. "It's easy on the joints, improves your endurance, strength and flexibility," she says.

Playtime for everyone

Kristi and Peter Havens like to play.

As working parents, they make a point of spending as much active time as they can with their kids, Noah, 6, and Olivia, 4.

"It's what you choose to do," says Kristi, 37 who is the volunteer program co-ordinator at Mount Carmel Clinic. "The kids are happier when we are doing things together as a family. It's not a chore. It's a good time."

As a family, with one or both parents at a time, they are active as much as possible. When the weather permits, each weekday after work, they eat supper and then head out to the park. Olivia loves to run and Noah loves to ride his bike. They live in a neighbourhood full of kids and very active families with a trail and parks.

"We used to limit their time in front of the TV, but now they do that on their own. It's not their first choice. They prefer to go, go, go!"

In addition to their fun outdoors, the kids enjoy doing exercise videos at home with their parents. Olivia loves yoga, and Wii boxing is a favourite with both of them, and a good workout for one and all. The family also goes to family swim at the YM-YWCA on the weekends, and runs on the track and plays basketball there as a family, too. Of course, they take the time to unwind, with some down-time together doing puzzles and reading stories.

At Kildonan Park, on occasion, one parent runs and the other plays with the kids. The kids run with them sometimes. "The kids always have good ideas. Olivia loves soccer and basketball and ballet. Noah loves cycling. We can see our kids have endurance. They want to be involved. This is all good self-esteem building for them. We encourage them to try new things and find something they love."

The family moved here from Windsor, Ontario, a couple of years ago. In Winnipeg, the couple chose to get active and be healthy, good examples for their young children. Each of them lost a significant amount of weight and has been having a good time. "We got in shape because of our kids. We didn't want them to outrun us. We wanted to be here for them."

Betteridge says active play makes parents good role models and offers families quality active time together. "Get to know each other, be creative, play together and create the memories kids will always cherish." Benefits include exercise for the heart, lungs and muscles, and increased flexibility and co-ordination in all the bending and movement involved. Being active will also help prevent bone density loss that can lead to osteoporosis.

Wave: Summer 2011

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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