Being active outdoors connects us to nature and helps us have balance in our lives. Outdoors, we’re away from the TV, telephone, computer, and other time-consuming, sit-down activities.
While being active outdoors, we become role models for our children, friends, and neighbours. When we’re active as part of a group or team, we build the bonds that help people stay connected. When being active becomes the norm, everyone becomes comfortable being active and involved.
Affordable Ways to Be Active Outdoors
Whatever the size of your community, you can find places and ways to get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors.
Using community facilities and services is a fun and affordable way to be active outdoors. Consider the parks, trails, and programs provided by your local government. If your town has more than 3,000 people, those services may be run by a recreation and parks department. The staff can put you in touch with sports, arts programs, and recreational clubs, and help you choose the activities that fit your interests and abilities. Consider gardening, and see if there are community garden plots available.
If you live in a smaller community, check with your town or village office or with the local agricultural office. It’s also likely that your local recreation centre, county hall, ice arena, or library has information on all sorts of community activities.
Having a place to go also gets us out and about. Beyond work and errands, where else can you go? Many communities offer heritage tours or nature walks. Activities such as orienteering give you things to look for as you walk or run.
You don’t need expensive equipment, just some comfortable shoes or an older model bicycle and maybe a friend for company. Some communities even have programs that give used bikes and other sports equipment to kids and adults who need them. Families can be active outdoors on trails and in parks, playgrounds, and campgrounds.
When choosing a restaurant or theatre, look for one you can reach on foot or by bike. Also think about being active when you plan your holidays. Hiking, swimming, kayaking, golfing…there are so many ways to be active while exploring other parts of the world.
Getting Around Using Active Transportation
Active transportation is another great way to be active outdoors. Only 8% of Canadians use active transportation, yet it can be an environmentally friendly and relaxing way to add activity to your day. Whether walking, cycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, or wheeling a wheelchair, you’re using muscle power rather than fossil fuels to go where you want to go.
Taking an active route to work most days can give you much of the physical activity you need. If you can’t walk all the way to work, consider parking 20 minutes away or getting off the bus early to walk the rest of the way. You may also want to get a group together to walk at lunch time. Try leaving the car in the garage when you do your errands, and walk or bike instead. Besides cutting down on pollution, active transportation is less noisy and helps reduce crime by putting more eyes on the street.
Trails for biking and walking encourage people to use active transportation. A place designed so you can walk anywhere is a walkable community. When people take advantage of walkable design and use self-propelled transportation, they’re helping to create an active, healthy community.
Being Active with Others in Your Community
Being active in a group offers many advantages. The security of numbers can add to personal safety, especially at night. Buddies also help us stick to our goals. What’s more, being active together makes the entire experience more fun.
Longer term, groups that are active together often grow to trust each other, becoming part of the glue that helps communities weather the tough times and celebrate the good.
When finding or forming a group, look for people who share your lifestyle or interests. If you’re a preschool parent, form a stroller brigade, or walk with other parents while your children are in activities together. If you own a dog, invite other dog walkers to join you. If you live near someone who’s headed your way to work, make a point of walking or biking together. If you love to walk or run, check local campuses and running stores for a group you can join.
Setting goals may help you stay active. Wear a pedometer to track your steps, and see how soon you can reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day. You should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Getting Out in the Great Outdoors
It’s easy to be active outdoors. Using active transportation and being active with other people are great ways to bring more activity to your day. Choosing activities that are simple, affordable, and fun will mean you’re active outdoors more often.
Active transportation is a great way to build physical activity into your daily commute and errands. There are lots of reasons to walk or bicycle your way around your community.
Alberta Sport and Recreation Organizations
Provincial sport and recreation associations provide a variety of programs and services to Albertans. Visit the Alberta Community Development website for more information about where and how to get active in Alberta.
Alberta TrailNet promotes trails for a broad range of user groups. Although TrailNet's major focus is to promote active living through recreational trails, the organization also supports trail routes as one option in our transportation system.
Volkssport Association of Alberta
Volkssport clubs are walking clubs that hold events for the public as well as for club members. Fort Saskatchewan, St. Albert, and Devon are some of the Alberta communities with Volkssport walking clubs.