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Walk the friendly skies

Downtown Winnipeg's skywalk system is one if the largest - and most interesting - indoor walking tracks in the city

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Over the last 15 years, I have worked in a variety of locations throughout Winnipeg.

One of my favourite locations was a downtown building connected to the Skywalk system.

No matter the weather, you could always go for a walk on your break or during your lunch hour in the comfort of a climate-controlled environment. You didn't need to deal with bulky jackets, wind chills, snow or ice in the winter; or heat, humidity and mosquitoes in the summer. Since then, the indoor network of connected corridors has expanded, leading to even more opportunities for walk-breaks.

Walking is one of the most popular ways that people get active and is a great way to positively affect your health. Walking 30 minutes a day can decrease your blood pressure, reduce anxiety and tension, and increase your aerobic fitness. These benefits and others can add up to 3.7 years to your life and an additional 3.3 years without cardiovascular disease, depending on the intensity that you walk.

You may have heard that taking 10,000 steps per day is the goal for achieving these health benefits, but emerging evidence shows that increasing your average daily steps is really what counts. For example, an increase of 2,500 steps per day at a moderate intensity has been shown to decrease blood pressure and positively affect cholesterol levels, which are two risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The average person takes between 5,900 to 6,900 steps per day, so adding 2,500 steps is definitely a step in the right direction.

You may be asking yourself how you go about counting the steps you take throughout your day to track your progress.

Pedometers do just that. They are inexpensive tools that are a great addition to any walking routine. A pedometer is a small device that is worn on the hip that registers your movement and provides immediate feedback on the number of steps taken per day. Using a pedometer can increase both your confidence and motivation. Add steps to your day by parking further away. Parking at the Convention Centre and taking the Skywalk system to the MTS Centre for a Jets game or concert, for example, can add more than 2,000 steps to your day.

So the next time you are downtown, take to the skies and improve your health.

Kristine Hayward is a co-ordinator with Winnipeg in motion

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