I walk a lot, through every season, so when I heard recently that exercise can boost your immune system and be one of the factors to help prevent flu, I was intrigued. After all it is the flu season. Apparently early and more recent studies have shown these benefits. Moderate exercise can temporarily boost the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria, and while you are exercising the beneficial cells circulate more rapidly through your body and attack bacteria and viruses. However, once you stop exercising, things return to normal within a few hours.
So what is moderate exercise anyway? One definition I found was 10 minutes a day of brisk walking. Others say at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for 5 days a week. I don’t worry too much about definitions, however, and have found a routine that works for me; walking for an hour at least three times a week, along with 20 minutes of yoga in the morning, is it. I think the key is finding a routine that can be easily incorporated into your day so that you keep on with it.
Walking along Broadway and then along the riverbank is my favourite route, taking in urban views and activity at the beginning and end, riverbank or more ‘country’ views in the middle. I’ve been stunned by a bald eagle floating along above the river, watched a skinny coyote near the railway bridge, have seen hordes of Canada Geese, and one memorable April, experienced the pelicans arriving from the south (if you’re a Saskatonian, you will know how emotional that can be). A walk may be quiet and peaceful or crowded with people and dogs, depending on the day and time. Generally others on the trail are friendly, giving a greeting even if they don’t know you; however, some prefer to be private and I respect that. Along Broadway there are crafts in shops, sculpture on the street, the smells of bakeries and restaurants, and depending on the time of year, music, theatre, bike races and lots of other events. In summer I pass by the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan tent and hear the company rehearsing. I sometimes stop at the Mendel Art Gallery to look at the shows, have a cup of tea in their coffee shop or wander through the conservatory; I will miss the Mendel when it moves. A short walk takes me to the University Bridge, across and back; a medium one is to the CPR Bridge; if I’m feeling really energetic I go all the way to the 42nd St. Bridge and cross by bthe pedestrian walkway.
One year I wrote haiku in my head as I walked along the river; the words just seemed to come. Another time the river inspired a story that my writing group worked on collectively. Sometimes I carry a notebook or scraps of paper, or I may just leave it to chance and hope I remember any inspiration that arrives.
I’ve walked in snow up to my knees after a storm and before the little tractor cleared the trail. Have put on my yellow rain suit in a down pour and gotten damp from sweating in it. Bundled up in layers for minus 30 or more windchill. Worn shorts, tank top, and a hat along with sunscreen and mosquito repellent on a hot summer day. Walking teaches you to be adaptable, and I love it.
“The trouble is,” said Laura, “walking in Venice becomes compulsive once you start. Just over the next bridge you say, and then the next one beckons.” – Daphne Du Maurier in Don’t Look Now