With the help of a free pedometer

Walking the distance to Alaska

Hope walking group adds their steps together to reach Point Hope

If the warm spring weather has inspired you to resurrect your New Year’s resolution to get more exercise, the Hope and District Recreation Centre has a few walking programs for you — and the first is absolutely free and flexible to your schedule.

Local walkers banded together for a cross-country “team walk” last year, and they just started walking to Alaska last week.

Don’t worry, you can still join — and even though you’re “walking” to Alaska, you can still be home every night. You’re not really walking up north. You just walk around town… but the group you join will be adding all their distances together until you all virtually arrive at Point Hope, Alaska.

Check a map. It’s about as far away as you can get on the mainland of the northern state. By road — where there is a road — and straight through the bushes, it’s over 3,500 kilometres from Hope.

Kim Richardson, recreation  programmer for Hope and District Recreation and Cultural Services said, “We took five months to get across Canada last year and five months to walk back. We had 15 people to start with but only 12 made it back.”

Perhaps some stopped for lobster at Peggy’s Cove and decided to stay….

“As a group, the kilometers add up pretty quickly,” said Richardson, who often walks to work. “We just started the Alaska walk this week and we’re maybe through the Canyon by now. Ten have started on this walk — but we’ll get more.”

To get with the program, see the receptionist at the main desk and say that you want to join the “Walk to Alaska” group. Staff will take your info and give you a free pedometer, so you can keep track of your daily steps.

Reset the counter to zero each day and keep the pedometer on as you go through your daily activities. Though you’re part of a group, you can work on your own if you wish — or get together with a friend or family member for extra walks.

Working in the garden, vacuuming the house or pushing a shopping cart around the grocery store all get recorded by the pedometer.

“Every steps counts,” adds Richardson. “The feedback we’ve been getting is that it encourages people to get out and walk, especially seniors.”

Weekly totals can be emailed in, phoned in, or walked in. The totals are then plotted on the map. A common goal for pedometer programs is to get 10,000 steps per day, on average. For some, this would be easy to achieve.

Considering that the average person’s walking pace is 0.76 metres, 10K steps gives you 7.6 km in a day.

If you’re coming from a sedentary lifestyle, with lots of lounging, sitting and driving, you may not be able meet the 10,000 step goal right away. If you have health issues, consult your doctor as well.

Perhaps you’re only averaging 3,000 steps in a day? Challenge yourself to increase the average by 500 steps a day until you can get it to 10,000 — or whatever personal goal you wish to set.

Runners don’t get full value from the pedometers, as their length of stride stretches out when they run — but the basic pedometers only record each time that a foot touches the ground.

GPS pedometers are upwards of $100, if you’re tempted.

I tracked my own steps, starting last Thursday and hit a high of 18, 315 on the first day, aided by three hours of gym classes and over an hour of indoor soccer. Friday was a lazy, lazy day, with only 2,200 steps. Saturday sightseeing at Crescent Beach garnered 11,400 steps, then Sunday was back to a lazy 6,000.

On Monday, I found that cutting the front and back lawns racked up about 2,400 steps. Even a quick visit to the grocery store gained another 500 steps. The big rip-off was when I ran for 24 minutes but only totaled 3,600 steps over 4.5 km. If I had walked the same route, it would have rung up 5,900 steps.

Still, my five-day average — without bonus points for running — was 10,300 steps per day. That should help get the group past Clinton this week.

If you’ve got the walking or running bug and want to figure out how far you’re going, you can use an internet site, such as MapMyRun.com. Road routes could be measured by your car’s odometer — but if you’re using trails or running around a school field, you can use an on-line plotter.

In MapMyRun,  a Google map is provided and you click all the points on your route. Distances are calculated as you make your adjustments and — amazingly — you even see the elevation changes along your route.

Starting April 21, the rec centre will be sponsoring three more programs to keep you moving. Learn to Nordic Pole Walk, Learn to Walk 5 km Faster and Learn to Run 5 km are open to people from 16 years and up. Costs run from $20-$25.

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