By Jean-Christian Gagnon, PSP Ottawa Health Promotion –
Now that summer is right around the corner, we see people getting out of their hibernation state and our streets coming back to life! Indeed, more and more people go for a stroll or a run to soak in the sun and the heat that we oh so much missed during the winter months.
Walking and running remain the most practiced physical activities due to the fact that they are inexpensive (you only need a pair of shoes and sports clothes!) and accessible (shopping mall to city streets to nature trails). Interestingly, the first event of the first ever Olympic Games in Greece was a foot race – certainly one of the best kept traditions!
The physical (e.g., improved cardiovascular function) and mental (e.g., relieved stress, reduction of depressive symptoms) health benefits of physical activity are undeniable and have become common knowledge within our society. However, an estimated 85% of Canadians fail to meet the physical activity guidelines which recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous- intensity physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Walking and running are a good place to start!
For people who are looking for a challenge, the Canada Army Run which is coming up on September 23 in Ottawa is a great opportunity to get started with a training program, spend more time outdoors, and push your limits. Registration is open to all, with the options of a 5km, 10 km, or half marathon (21km) race.
We probably all heard of someone who signed up for a race and forgot to train. Their experience could be qualified as anything but pleasant! Adequate training is crucial to enjoy the race experience and to prevent injuries. This is why the Canada Army Run offers training programs (developed by the Running Room) that are available online. These training programs are distance (5km, 10km, half-marathon) and level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) specific, so you can choose which ever suits you best!
On a final note, here are four tips to help you follow through your training program:
- Find an activity you enjoy. Physical activity shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but rather as something you look forward to! The more you enjoy the activity, the more likely you are to maintain it in the long term. If running is not your forte, find something else you enjoy!
- Ask a friend to join you. Research has shown that social support is among the best predictors for an active lifestyle. Asking a friend or a family member to join you not only makes the activity more fun, but also fosters a sense of accountability!
- Get plugged in. If you prefer training on your own (or that your friend has bailed on you), a good strategy to enhance enjoyment is to listen to music or podcasts. While high tempo music is recommended, remember that the best kinds of music and podcasts are the ones you enjoy most. Investing in wireless earphones might be an interesting strategy!
- We are creatures of habit, but sometimes switching things up is necessary! If you hit a slump in your training program, try doing something different (e.g., plan a different walking/running route, change activity, or change intensity).
Visit the PSP Ottawa Health Promotion page to register for our workshops on Injury Reduction Strategies for Sports and Physical Activity. Our complete schedule for the fall will be out by mid-July!
This post is also available in: Français (French)