Article by Rita Gore Eau Claire YMCA volunteer

SUMMERS OVER- Time to put away the bike, head home and pull out that new television  schedule for fall … or is it?

 Summer has been a reprieve from regular schedules and work for many of us. Unfortunately though, our fitness goals and routines may have been abandoned also. September can provide an opportunity for a fresh start, before all those other responsibilities and priorities start crowding back in. But where to begin? Here are some opportunities to consider and a little insight into why it is so important to keep active, no matter what the season.


Working out with a partner, can help provide the commitment and consistency you need to get moving. Why not consider signing up and training together for the 1-5 km fun run/walk- Sunday September 30 –C.I.B.C Run for the Cure?(www.runforthecure.com)

Joanie Snodgrass, Shawnessy YMCA front desk volunteer, is doing it! Not only is she participating in the 2012 Run for the Cure, she’s Survivor Spokesperson this year. You can hear the determination in her voice when she says,

“I decided a while back that I would not shy away from anything I can do to inspire or encourage fitness!”

These sentiments are echoed by fellow Shawnessy volunteer Charlene Waldal. She’s been training for the Strathmore Triathlon and coaches two Dragonboat corporate teams as well as her own team from work.

Whether you walk or run or swim or dragon boat, it helps to get a group together and set up a training routine. It will give you a concrete achievable goal to work toward with an end date in sight. These events also get you connected to like-minded people in the community.


Research shows that sense of community belonging is highly correlated with physical and mental health. A recent Statistics Canada survey found that Canadians with a strong sense of community reported better physical and mental health. (1)

Compared with people whose sense of community was weak, those with a very strong sense, had close to twice the odds of reporting excellent or very good health and more than twice the odds of excellent or very good mental health. Joanie and Charlene are on to something-getting involved is good for us!
Another fall event that can’t help but motivate you is sightnight 2012. Initiated by Kevin Kaminski a blind athlete and retired goal ball paralympian, sightnight consists of a 3-8 km run (or walk) along the river from Eau Claire Market, November 17.

Sightnight is a fundraiser in support of the Alberta Sport and Recreation Association for the Blind. (ASRAB) is an organization whose purpose is to promote healthy lifestyles for visually impaired Albertans through the provision of competitive sport and recreation opportunities. 

To prepare people for sightnight ASRAB will offer an 8-week training program in Calgary, open to any ASRAB Member (sighted or visually impaired) who is interested in getting fit and having a great time. At $10 for a membership, the price is right.

 It doesn’t matter whether your goal is to walk the 3 kilometer course on sightnight or to run 8 …the training program will teach you how, and prepare you to accomplish your goal. For more information go to (www.asrab.ab.ca)

 Keep it Simple: Integrate Exercise Into Your Life:

Simple activities like raking the leaves,getting off the bus or train a stop early and walking are all familiar methods for getting exercise.

On the weekend,check out some of farmers markets for that perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Visit a u-pick it farm and experience the satisfaction of picking and freezing some of the seasons bounty. Recruit a friend to help pick saskatoon berries and freeze some for mid-winter smoothies or berry crisps.Saskatoons contain anti-oxidents and are rich in Vitamin C and potassium.


People are motivated differently.It is important to figure out what are your individual goals- whether strength and toning,preparing for a race or event or losing weight or just getting out in the fresh air.

Yet simply setting goals is not generally “good enough” for most people. So it is important to choose something that you will enjoy doing and likely to keep up whether walking or hiking, boot camp or biking.

You can imagine how important liking what their doing will be, to the 36 Cancervive cyclists who will depart October 3 from Calgary for a 9 day bike trip to Maine.

  Yet,they are each ordinary men and women who hold down regular jobs and have families and other responsibilities too. Riding in teams of 6,in 6 hour shifts, 24 hours each day for 9 days will be what it takes to reach their destination of the Dempsey Centre for Hope in Lewiston Maine.The purpose- to raise funds for programs at Wellspring Calgary- a support centre for any Calgarian getting back on their feet after a cancer diagnosis.

Go to www.cancervive.ca to read about some of the sources of inspiration and motivation for these riders.Or come out October3 to 1404 Home Road NW between 7-9 am at Wellspring Calgary to send them off.

 Knowing that the Cancervive ride in 2013 is in June and to California might be all it takes to motivate you to get signed up for a winter spin class.

But Remember- it’s Mind, Body AND Spirit:

Finally, be sure to take time to treat yourself not just to exercise but other activities that promote wellness. For example,schedule time for a regular massage, or consider investing in a learn to meditate class or enroll in a photography course.Fall is a great time to learn something new-just ask any child in school.

It is important to feel good not only physically but mentally,emotionally and spiritually too. And it does not have to be elaborate. 

  1. Shields M. Community belonging and self-perceived health. Health Reports (Statistics Canada, Catalogue (82-003) 2008; 19(2):51-60. 
  2. 10 Tips for Fall Fitness by Barbara Russi Sarnataro (WedMD Feature)

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