Tag Archives: walking

Body & Soul: Warm Weather Workouts

Body & Soul: Warm Weather Workouts

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Body & Soul: Warm Weather Workouts

by Agnes Ramsay

Hoping to have more time in July and August to get into shape is often the plan, but the reality of barbecues, day trips and the hot, lazy days of summer has those days, weeks and months flying by. The bike is primed and ready to go and those sneakers are at the ready by the back door for an early morning walk, but once the ‘too’s’ set in, the best of intentions fly out the window – it’s too hot, it’s too humid, it’s too boring or you’re too busy.

Three years ago, I got a spring tune-up on my bike, but after riding it once, it was too much effort to get it down from its hook in the garage. The more I thought about it, I realized that I was headed down the wrong path – figuratively and literally. It wouldn’t make sense for me to advise you to take up skateboarding as a fitness activity if you’re not going to be compliant – as compliance is the key to any fitness regime.

It’s important to find new ways to motivate ourselves. The latest rage is fitness trackers. Most of us love to receive feedback (how many steps?) and incentive (you win virtual rewards and can compete against others). Use these devices if they work for you, but it’s important to add in the fun factor, as that’s what’s going to keep you going. Often it’s the tried and true activities that are the most enjoyable.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com


Starting with your own neighbourhood, figure out several routes with varying distances. Write them down across the top of a page with the directions and distance. Each time you do one, record the date and how long it took. You can then track your improvement over time.


Pick a predetermined series of Ontario hikes. There are so many choices, so pick several that are appropriate to your skill level to do over the course of the summer. Write them down, and preplan your days to revolve around the hike.


There are some great old railway trails in Ontario. If you haven’t biked in years, this is a safe way to get back into it. Remember, you never forget how to ride a bike. Plan a weekly ride by checking out the following: ontariobiketrails.com/rail-trails/ and webhome.idirect.com/~brown/


◆ Rideau Canal Trail, Ottawa

◆ Bruce Trail (choose sections from
800 kilometres of trails)

◆ Niagara Parks Trail, Niagara-onthe-

◆ Bluff Trail, Awenda Provincial Park

◆ Durham Forest, York Region


◆ Play tennis on a deserted court

◆ Pick fresh berries

◆ Rent a kayak on a local lake

◆ Volunteer to do tree planting

◆ Go bowling in an air conditioned alley


◆ Avoid the mid-day heat and do
activities early or later in the day

◆ Drink lots of water

◆ Wear sunblock and a hat

◆ Dress in light clothing

◆ Rest in a shaded or air conditioned
area if you have any heat-related
symptoms, such as dizziness,
headache, nausea or muscle cramps.


Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.


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Body & Soul: Nordic Pole Walking

Reduce stress and stay fit by Nordic Pole Walking

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Reduce stress and stay fit by Nordic Pole Walking

by Agnes Ramsay

Walking improves your attention span and your outlook on life. According to researchers, walking outdoors can boost virus and tumour-fighting white blood cells. It’s free, and you can walk almost anywhere. It’s a great activity to do alone or with others. What’s not to love?

My husband teases me for being a tree hugger, but I don’t need any specialist to tell me how great I feel after a brisk walk. However, some of us have limitations due to bad knees, hips or lower back problems.

Nordic Poles to the rescue

A couple of years ago, my husband and I hiked through several State and National parks. Our first hike was six hours on the East Rim Trail in Zion National Park. Although we were fit 53-year-olds, the wear and tear of my husband’s professional hockey playing days had caused knee and hip problems. Hiking upwards wasn’t so bad, but heading back down became difficult. We found a sturdy stick that helped, and then I had a lightbulb moment – Nordic Poles.

After my husband iced his knees, we headed off to an outfitting store and chose a pair of collapsible, lightweight, aluminum, anti-shock poles. That night I researched pole walking techniques and the following day we hit the trails for a four-hour ridge climb. I was nervous, but my husband was determined. He barely struggled getting down the steep pathway, using the poles as though he’d been doing it all of his life.

At one point I borrowed his poles and couldn’t believe the zip it gave to my hiking, as well as the additional workout I felt in my upper body. I have since purchased a set of my own.

Nordic Pole benefits

  • Upper body assistance with overall strength, improving endurance and speed
  • Balance and stability are enhanced on uneven terrain
  • Shock absorption – reduces impact on hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Helps to establish, and maintain, a consistent pace
  • Burns more calories than walking

Buying Tips

  • When looking for the right size, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle
  • Ensure that they are collapsible for traveling
  • Check the comfort level of the hand grips and wrist straps
  • Anti-shock poles reduce strain on hands and wrists
  • Lightweight, carbon poles are more expensive, but aluminum poles are more flexible and better for running


  • Grip poles (firmly), with your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Let your arms swing naturally – opposite arm to leg
  • Reach slightly forward with the pole, and push down on the ground and back
  • Upright posture when going forward
  • Lean slightly forward when going uphill
  • Don’t overdo it on the first day
  • Establish a rhythm and stretch afterwards
  • Poles assist with stability in the winter, but in icy conditions, wear appropriate footwear (i.e. boot traction slip ons) and use trails that are well-maintained.
Agnes Ramsay specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.



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