Activate your lifestyle with outdoor, unplugged activities
No doubt about it, we are a plugged-in and car-crazy country. Our electronic devices and televisions may inform and entertain, but all that time connected means we are less physically active and less connected to our environment as well as each other. Plus when we exercise, many of us do it indoors, alone and on machines! So what’s up, can we blame it on the weather?
It takes an effort to unplug from our favourite distractions and our gas-powered transportation but it can be done! When we choose “active transportation” we’re not relying on fossil fuels to get us from one place to another and when we activate our lifestyles we are powering ourselves to move which is essential to good health. The result is less emissions from energy consumption and personal vehicle use—and a greater connection to our community and nature.
Less harmful commuter options
Let’s face it, not every person can choose active transportation all the time and some people do not have the ability to walk or cycle. In addition to physical limitations, there are other obstacles such as distance or car-centric communities and suburbs. If public transport is not available to you, why not use Earth Month as your trial period to organize a carpool with coworkers or neighbours? If you are unsure about your ability to ride a bicycle, there are many electric-bikes on the market that allow you to pedal or ride on electric power. For more on how to make your workplace green commuter friendly visit the green action centre.
The Big Picture: Walk away from a reliance on personal vehicles
Transportation accounts for 27% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which private vehicle use accounts for one third. In the six largest census metropolitan areas, roughly 82% of commuters travelled to work by car in 2010, while 12% took public transit and 6% walked or bicycled. Replacing short car trips with walking can improve local air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping Canadians meet climate change objectives in an economic and active way. Canada needs walkable communities and safe bike paths. Canada Walks, a program of Green Communities, seeks to create communities in which active transportation is safe, practical, and inviting.
Take It Up yourself
- Do a personal inventory of all the places you go in a given week; your workplace, school grocery store, clubs, family and friends’ homes. How many of these places can you get to by choosing a more active method like walking or cycling?
- Make a list of the things you've been putting off and could be doing instead of watching TV, streaming video or using Facebook. Post it where you will see it often and choose an activity from the list each day!
- Once you unplug, take the free time to tune into yourself, your surroundings and your family and friends. Work on your relationships with people and create meaningful exchanges
- Instead of relying on the TV for news and entertainment, read the local newspaper, visit your library, take a class, or go to some events in your community
- Tune up the old bike and start riding. Or teach your kids how to ride
- Explore new outdoor activities you haven’t tried before like camping, hiking, canoeing, paddling, and skating.
Take It Up with a group
- Instead of joining a gym, join an outdoor walking, running or cycling club; no matter what your level of experience, you may find it more effective (and stimulating) to be active with other people
- Got an hour for lunch? Start a walking group at work and set a brisk pace. Bring your lunch with you to eat in a nearby park or eat at your desk when you return to maximize your active time
- On a sunny afternoon, plan a good old-fashioned “blackout” or power outage. No electronic devices allowed (a little overhead lighting is okay). What will you do? Crafts or board games? Go on a long exploratory nature walk to a nearby playground and meet your neighbours. If you have fun, why not make it a regular activity?
- Never been camping? No problem! Parks Canada offers learn-to-camp workshops on new skills like setting up a tent, cooking outdoors, and safety. Take up camping with your family, or plan a fun trip with friends
- Create a voluntary office “tax” for people who continue to drive to work. The money collected can go to green rewards for the office such as an organic veggie lunch, bike-tune-ups or transit tickets. Ask your employer to create incentives to take up active transportation.