Vancouver is a sure bet for a great vacation, even if you live here. It’s a global destination for tourists who make it a point to visit places like Gassy Jack, the Museum of Anthropology, Kits Beach and Grouse Mountain. Vancouver is beautiful, and for the health-minded, it can be the perfect place to stay in shape. But these popular destinations are car-centric, and getting active here is not always top of mind for staycationers.
Many fitness-oriented globetrotters are picking their next trip based on how well it allows them to engage in their favourite fitness activity. They may go to Italy for a swimming tour, or join a 10K run in Hawaii, for example. If you’re interested in keeping it local, however, there are more than a few reasons why you can make your staycation in Vancouver a fun and healthy one.
This blog is all about being active during your staycation. If you're looking for some more activities in Vancouver this summer, read on.
Where to hike and the reasons why
Inactivity is the enemy. A sedentary lifestyle, where you don’t engage your body in regular exercise, can lead to several chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and sarcopenia. Regularly getting involved in physical activities can reduce these risks dramatically . An easy solution to staying active anyone in Vancouver is hiking.
The scenic views that hiking provides, along with its connection to the natural world, can have a calming effect that actually helps in combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Those symptoms can include everything from weight gain to insomnia, so having a pastime that combats elevates your mood is no small thing.
In addition to improving your disposition, hiking can be a very efficient cardio workout. Like many cardio exercises, the list of benefits is too long to give here, but it includes reduced arthritis pain and stiffness, improved blood sugar levels, increased endurance and increased lung capacity. Specific to hiking, you’ll also gain increased bone density because of its weight-bearing element, and you’ll see improved strength in the muscles of your lower body.
Now that you understand the why of hiking, let’s talk about where in Vancouver you can find a good trail.
One of the first places you might want to visit is Hollyburn Mountain. Not only does this trial offer beautiful views, but Hollyburn is home to the world's largest Amabilis Fir tree. Another point to keep in mind is the trailhead at Cypress located near the BC Parks sign near the nordic ski area. From there you can begin the amazing howe sound crest trail.
If you want to avoid bridge traffic, or you find yourself in the valley you might want to explore Elk Mountain. It’s located in the valley, and is known for its fantastic valley scenery. Look for the Prest Road exit on the #1, head south for approximately 10km on mostly paved roads. Try not to squish any tiny toadlets during the summer months.
Staying strong with paddling
“Exploring the sights of Vancouver brings together the excitement of activities you love along with the kind of fun that will help you maintain the active lifestyle you want.”
Paddling is a great way to stay active outdoors wherever you are in BC. That’s because BC is home to several premier locations for paddling, which enthusiasts from around the world come to take advantage of. Each of these dozen or more remarkable places affords something unique, whether the great views, amazing swimming or secret beaches that Vancouverites can, and should, take advantage of.
In Indian Arm, for example, you can experience smooth paddling on glassy, serene waters. This allows you to get the aerobic benefits of the constant movement, but at a pace that’s not too strenuous. Try to time your paddle to avoid peak hours when boat traffic causes more chop. Bring a tent if you want to camp as there are several campsites within 10km of Deep Cove.
The waters in Skookumchuck Narrows near Sechelt may be the opposite. At high tide the current of the water switches up, creating an exhilarating whitewater rapids ride that will challenge even seasoned paddlers.
One reason for the popularity of paddling is that no matter the age or level of fitness, anyone can take part. This is even true for those who may be differently-abled, as the use of your legs is not required. Almost anyone can gain the improved core strength and stability that the sport provides.
Getting a good swim
Swimming is a sport that is often is its own best salesperson. Having a “swimmer’s body” is a well-known compliment that reflects how swimming helps us lose weight, while also providing low-impact resistance that strengthens almost every one of our skeletal muscle groups.
This applies to various ages group as pointed out by a recent study that noted improved function and reduced pain in patients with osteoarthritis . After swimming regularly, subjects in the study had an increased quality of life in terms of joint flexion and general speed.
While in BC, go for a swim in the picturesque areas around the gulf islands. Ocean swimming in this region presents you with crystal clear water. One of the many ways to access the ocean from beautiful sandy beaches is in Dionisio Park on Galiano.
If you’re heading to the interior don’t hesitate to jump into Lake Okanagan or Christina lake, both make for great freshwater swimming all summer. If you’d like something a little warmer, and can only make it a quick half-day or after-work trip, travel out to Sasamat lake near Belcarra.
Get active and explore Vancouver
Health destinations have become increasingly popular as more and more people decide to align their vacation plans with their fitness goals. As we plan our vacation, however, we shouldn’t forget that a staycation is a great option. We’ve got world class hiking, paddling and swimming so close by. Exploring the sights of Vancouver brings together the excitement of activities you love along with the kind of fun that will help you maintain the active lifestyle you want.
If you’re interested in keeping things local on your journey to optimal health, contact us. Our kinesiologists are located right in the heart of Yaletown and north Burnaby. They will not only point you in the direction of the best activities in the area but will work with you to develop a fitness regime specific to you. That is, a program to assist in your rehabilitation or help you reach your overall health goals. Reach out to us today to book a free consultation.
Make sure to check out our blog 4 family friendly winter hikes in Vancouver!
1 Warburton DER, Nicol CW, Bredin SSD. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence March 14, 2006, Pages 801-809. Volume 174 (Issue 6)
2 Reid KJ, Baron KG, Lu B, Naylor E, Wolfe L, Zee PC. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia Sleep Medicine. October 2010, Pages 934-940. Volume 11 (Issue 9)
AUGUST 2, 2019