The Importance of Being Active
Annie Newman

I was on the island a few weeks ago, and the weather was absolutely perfect. My brother and sister-in-law have a 5-month-old puppy who has boundless energy and a zest for adventurous life so of course we were inspired to go on a hike. We started off hiking through ferns and moss on a steady yet steep incline, which if I’m being honest was the hardest part because I was trying not to trip on tree roots and Olive’s trailing leash. Finally, after about 30 minutes of following my brother through the forest, we switched our hiking route and hiked this trail called Bridgeman; this trail was much more manicured, and had an ending in sight! Bridgeman’s peak is on Keats Island and has views that look toward the south. When we made it up to the top of the rock face, we had the ability to see so much blue water, the silhouette of Vancouver Island, and as far out as the Tsawwassen ferry terminal which was quite amazing.  

I’m not the biggest fan of hiking, I'm more of a “let’s play a sport” or go for a nature walk (that’s flat) type of person, but I will say that I truly appreciated and needed this hike. The ability to get outside on a beautiful day and focus on my surroundings while taking one step at a time was so good for me. Being out in nature and being able to be active cleared my mind and helped to circulate oxygen to my lungs and brain and move my body.  

I sometimes find that it’s taking the first step to get out and about that is the hardest, but once I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing, I quite enjoy it. I also find that there are so many benefits to being active both in the moment, and benefits in the future. Being active is so good for the body and the mind, and it really becomes an important balance in our day-to-day lives. For something that is so important, I often wonder why it is usually the first thing to slip off the list of priorities. I understand that life is busy and there’s a lot going on; however, I believe it’s important to understand why staying active and doing something physical should be kept on our to-do lists. Like mentioned above, I do believe that seeing physical activity as more of a mental health helper than something to keep or stay in shape can help to prioritize when and why we’re being active. Shifting the purpose and the why in regards to being active can help make being active more of a consistent pattern in our lives.  

Some of the benefits of being active: 

  • Releases serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which all contribute to regulating our moods, which contributes to improving our mood  
  • Improves cognition 
  • Increases quality of life 
  • Reduces depression and anxiety 
  • Helps to clear your mind 
  • Reduces stress levels 
  • Increases blood flow 
  • Increases oxygen to the brain 
  • Improved sleep outcomes 
  • Improves strength and mobility 

Ways to include activeness into your routine:  

  • Start your day off with being active, then you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day (or unwind with a workout to loosen up your body before bed) 
  • Add it to your calendar and start slow and set attainable goals 
  • If you’re dropping your kids off at a sports practice, park the car and go for a walk while they are at their practice 
  • Be active while you’re watching Netflix 
  • Have family competitions (break up into teams and tally your fitness…members with the least points have to make dinner) 

If going to the gym or going for long runs isn’t your thing, that’s okay…there are many alternatives when it comes to getting your steps in: 

  • Trying out YouTube workouts 
  • Going on nature walks, beach walks, neighbourhood walks with your family/friends and pets 
  • Rekindling your love for a sport you used to play; make it fun, play with family 
  • Having family dance parties  
  • Going to the driving range
  • Going to a batting cage 
  • Playing Wii (do people still have/play this?) 
  • Trying something new! 

When you’re working out or being active, remember to have fun and enjoy it, start slow with whatever it is you are doing, and if something doesn’t feel right, slow down or stop…listening to your body is very important. I also encourage you to make a fun playlist that will help boost your mood before you start your activity!

Contributed by Annie Newman, Senior School Counsellor