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Paddling – Improving Your Health Physically and Mentally

Imagine sitting on the water surrounded by open air; your mind is clear and your body is in motion.  As your paddle dips into the water, the troubles of yesterday and tomorrow fade into the background. There are many physical and mental benefits to exploring and experiencing our local waterways.

Strength Inside and Out: Paddling has numerous payoffs for the parts of our body we cannot see.  Cardiovascular benefits include improved heart rate, lower blood pressure and increased lung capacity.  This activity is a real calorie burner. Paddling a kayak at 8 km per hour will burn over 400 calories.  That’s 1600 calories for a short 4 hour trip!

And if that isn’t reason enough, your upper body will get an amazing workout.  Every stroke is like doing a single arm dumbbell row.  If you paddle 5km in one hour, you are going to complete 1500 repetitions of low impact upper body movements.  Throw in an amazing abdominal workout that comes from twisting your torso and applying pressure with your legs for stability and you have a full body workout.

Keep a Clear Mind: Aerobic exercise triggers brain chemicals that boosts your mood, raises energy levels and relieves anxiety.  That elusive “Runner’s High” is experienced across many sports.   The natural setting allows us to release the busy thoughts of day to day. Our plugged-in society never disconnects.  This “always-on” lifestyle can lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress damages the cardiovascular, immune, digestive, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems. It lowers levels of serotonin and dopamine, making us feel exhausted. In a natural environment there’s a high degree of predictability. Unlike a busy street, a body of water paints a picture of stability. The consistent background allows parts of our brains to relax. Yet water is dynamic on a smaller scale engaging us and requiring us to be fully present in the moment. Simply being near water can create a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment.

Opportunity Is Now: MEC Edmonton is making it possible for people of all ages, with or without paddling experience, to get out onto the water and try kayaking, canoeing, and stand up paddle boarding.  On National Health and Wellness day, June 5th we are hosting our annual PaddleFest at Telford Lake in Leduc, Alberta. The event runs from 10 am to 4 pm. There will be on water clinics for white water kayaking, kayak touring, intro to canoeing, family canoeing, and stand up paddle boarding. There will also be a variety of on land clinics, boat demos, local watersport vendors and associations, food trucks, and prize giveaways. Bring all your family and friends to enjoy nature and improve your whole wellbeing.

You can check out all the details at http://events.mec.ca/event/116446/mec-edmonton-paddlefest

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