this one’s for the kids (and the kids at heart!)

Check out this happy video with Zach and Bert from *Sesame Street.

Grab the kids, ditch the screens and Take a Walk – on this lovely, sunny day!!!

 

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*Thank you Mary Karcz!

why walk… right now, in the fall?

Walking is a great activity to do in any season. The challenge we face in Chicagoland –  we always seem to get our seasons in the extreme.

If you are prepared for the weather, you can still enjoy getting outdoors for some fresh air on a daily basis. The key to walking outdoors, year round, involves acclimation.

Getting yourself accustomed to environmental changes, like falling temperatures, wind, sleet or snow etc., helps you adapt on a gradual basis. Layering clothes, keeping gloves and a headband or a hat in your pocket, donning a scarf, and increasing the thickness of your socks are just some of the ways to acclimate to seasonal changes and falling temperatures.

Remember to invest in a good waterproof shell with a hood. If you get wet, you will be cold and miserable. A good outer shell not only prevents moisture from getting in, but also traps body heat, which keeps you warm in the chilliest weather. This is a good time to start adjusting outer wear, before the super chill temperatures and north wind begin to arrive.

The same goes for shoes. Last year, I invested in my first pair of running shoes with a gore-tex membrane. I will never go back. These shoes kept my feet warm and dry throughout all of last winter’s walks. The same concept holds for feet – if they get wet, they get cold and you are miserable. One added benefit of waterproof shoes is that they trap and hold heat. I like this because my feet stay warmer in the below zero temps.

Don’t forget sunblock and a visor or hat if you are out during the day. Sun protection is just as necessary in fall, winter and spring.

Let go of the old wives’ tail…”cold weather makes you get sick.” Believe it or not, this is the number one health myth according to Healthline.com!

Taking a daily walk is a tremendous way to keep your immune system sharp. Keep in mind, walking beats sitting when it comes to increasing the amount of natural killer cells in the blood. As cold and flu season approaches, these cells target viruses, bacteria, infected cells, tumor growth and other pathogens trying to invade our systems. Walking keeps us well.

Fresh outdoor air can also be a natural  energizer in the form of oxygen from plants and trees. What better way to get a dose of stress busting oxygen to the brain and body than an outdoor walk.

Moral of the story:  Rise up to the challenge of extreme weather with extreme outerwear!

design

walksounds

Babbling Brooks
A flag flaps furls flaps
 geese honk here and there
overhead an O’Hare engine
distant moans, drones
drip alley gutters drip, drip
in staccato rhythms,
syncopated sun melt.
Robins flit up and down
inside the chitter chatter
of sparrows as
one lone cardinal
chirps resonant red,
a downtown train
shuts its doors
squeaky brakes release
a March wind whispers
too loud, a twig snaps,
cracks unto leftover snow.
The dog barks
rebarks, reply barks
 screeching squirrel
wantonly warns
 Harlem traffic
barrels, brakes and beeps
a bunny silent,
then out of sight.
An ode to Brook’s Park, in March, in Chicago.

yesterday…

all my troubles seemed so far away!

Yesterday… it was 46 degrees in Chicago, and the sun was up and out. Full-on at the crack of dawn. Could this winter be moving on?

I saw people. They were out and about everywhere, blinking and sunglassed.

My morning had a purpose, an energy, a happiness of spirit.

Having received an email from my walker friend the night before, we made our plan to walk outside, and I couldn’t wait.

As the morning progressed, I couldn’t help thinking “what will I wear”?

Will it be too cold for shorts?

Whatever the temperature, I won’t need a bunch of layers.

What about my new Spring vest – the one I got for Christmas. That’s it.

The walk was everything I had hoped for.

Five miles in gorgeous, bright sunshine. Melt tinkling and birds chirping.

Oh happy day!

Yesterday….

Vintage March
 Solitaire Miles

IKCdog show

The International Kennel Club was in town this weekend with a cluster of dog shows at McCormick Place.  Too cold and icy to go outside, but warm and sunny when traveling in the car – what a perfect destination for a low intensity indoor walk at a fun event.

Twist my arm (barely) and I am there!

As we reached our destination it was time to drive down into the underground parking garage, but not before getting a glimpse of that beautiful lake – Lake Michigan. Oh! How my heart pounds when I see the Lake. It’s almost time for walks along her sandy shores. But I digress…

lake at McCormick

Into the underground garage, park, walk through two lots to get to the Lakeside center, then through 2 eighth-mile hallways, up a ramp, into the convention center, around a corner, and down a very, very long promenade to the venue. Sheesh! Good thing it’s all inside. We made it, and it was quite the walk.

dog show banner

Get our hands stamped with the coolest stamps ever, and we are in!

dogshow hand stamp 

The McCormick place venue is super huge. A person could rack up miles taking in all there is to be seen. There are rescues, animal shelters, grooming stations, training demonstrations, every kind of dog-related product one could imagine, and of course the dogs. They are everywhere, throughout the venue, walking, visiting, greeting, relaxing and comfortably mingling among all of the people. On the perimeter of the show rings are the breeds and breeders “tail-gating”, prancing, blow drying, primping or just chilling and visiting with the public, allowing snapshots with their rock star pets. The main draw –  the show rings. This is where all of the action takes place.

venue

Big dog alert…it’s no secret that these days, I love the big breeds. We were greeted at the door by the Great Dane rescue. This Dane’s name was Mayhem. What a sweetheart, I can’t imagine how he got his name, or why he hasn’t been adopted.

All he wanted was to do was relax on his bed with some little person petting him.

Rescue danedane on beddane with kid

Once inside, we spent most of our time walking through the breeds looking for the Saint Bernards. To our surprise there was only one. But what a beauty she was. Her name was Izzy and she was a 3 year old ball of fluff.  Large and in charge, all she wanted was to give her paw, her really really big paw…constantly, in the hope someone would take it and start to pet her. She really made me miss my saints. They are such an affectionate breed.

izzyizzy the saint

We found out Izzy would be in the ring in 15 minutes, so after some snapshots we made our way back out into the main area where there were more than 10 rings showcasing the different breeds. As we walked over to the ring where Izzy would show we could see the Giant Schnauzers currently held the stage. Another beautiful and elegant large dog breed, we watched as the judge made the rounds inspecting each dog for posture and cut.

Schnauzers

The Schnauzers were in the show ring for about 10 minutes, which gave us enough time to navigate our way through the crowd to get a spot. As we settled in, the Schnauzers were marching out.

Then came Izzy. The only Saint in the parade, she won best in breed easily, and the whole thing took about 5 minutes.

bernard walking

We patted ourselves on the back recognizing our luck and good fortune. Had we slept for 10 extra minutes, or stopped for coffee we would have missed meeting Izzy and seeing her strut her stuff in the show. We have attended several dog shows in the past, and this was the first time we got to see a Saint.

In the car, I checked my walk app and I had logged over 3 miles in steps. Not too bad for an indoor day!

pedestrian

Today’s post is a bit of a rant.

My rant goes out to driver’s of vehicles who don’t understand/ignore/forget about/don’t care about the pedestrian’s right of way in crosswalks.

Many communities have gone to great lengths to highlight crosswalk areas in their towns, so that driver’s will either slow down or stop completely before they hit a person.

Apparently, many drivers are still confused by this. I admit I was. As a driver, the first time I saw the funky little ‘yield for pedestrian’ signs, I was confused. But, since it had a little red yield sign in it’s background, my first instinct was – to stop, and yield. (which I remember annoyed the hell out of the driver behind me) After all the beeping and honking I learned – I only had to stop when a pedestrian was present. OK. Makes sense. I can do that. I  became increasingly more aware as I drove, to be respectful of people, especially those not protected by 4000 pounds of metal.

As a walker, I have a different perspective.

In the town I live next to, pedestrian crossings are a more serious problem. Park Ridge’s crosswalks border on something you might see on Saturday Night Live. My longer walks will take me through Park Ridge’s downtown area. Always hustling and bustling with shoppers, coffee drinkers, and families with kids, it’s a lively and enjoyable interruption on my distance walks.

The first time I encountered PR’s crosswalks I wanted to laugh out loud. Are they serious I asked myself? The crosswalk is painted in super big bold stripes – not such a bad idea, they are obvious and clearly marked. Next, on either side of the walk, are those neon green little traffic sign thingys. Pretty normal like most communities.

OK, this is where it gets crazy… Park ridge takes it to the next level – on each lamppost, on either side of the crosswalk is a bucket of bright orange flags. I guess the pedestrian is supposed to pick up a flag on one side and walk across the street with the flag, and then deposit it into the bucket. My first thought was is this one of those “prank” TV show situations?

Feeling incredibly awkward, I picked a flag out of the bucket and marched through the crosswalk. Still keeping one eye open for a camera crew, my focus then changed to – is there some kind of protocol for carrying the flag? Do I wave the flag? Do I just hold it up over my head, my shoulder? Do I throw throw the flag at the cars who still ignore all of this pageantry for simply crossing a street? OR, is the flag merely present to draw attention to my lifeless supine body if I do get hit? Honestly, I don’t know.

I do know that in 2012, streetsblog network reported that “83 percent of the year’s known Chicago pedestrian fatalities were hit-and-run collisions.” I also know from the local nightly news, almost once a month there is the report of some innocent person getting run over by a vehicle and then left, dead in the street.

Does anyone else think this is a sad commentary on the value of human life?  As a society, are we content to “run over” people because they are in our way? Do we think people are indestructible zombies? When did crosswalks become scary places? Oops! My anxiety runneth amuck.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Park Ridge, they are trying to “over” protect their citizens and for that I am thankful. But really, I have to wonder what’s next? Flashing lights? A Marching band? What will it take for driver’s of cars (myself included) to pay attention for other humans. Humans as in beings who are just out for a walk.

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wintercalories

Yesterday’s 3 inch blizzard turned into 7 inches by the time it was done in my Chicago neighborhood. After snow blowing and shoveling multiple times, walking the dogs, walking myself and cleaning off the car, I came indoors ready to eat. I couldn’t stop eating, all throughout the day – my metabolism was revved up, which got me to wondering…”do I burn more calories in the winter?”

Most information says cold weather doesn’t increase normal caloric expenditure by a significant amount. In other words, I don’t burn too many extra calories just because it’s cold out. If I elevate my heart rate and I’m outdoors shoveling, I burn the calories from the work of shoveling.

Any small increase in calories burned outdoors in cold weather may be due to the warming of cold air by the lungs and from the rewarming of skin that has been exposed to the cold. So, my body does burn a small amount of extra calories to keep me warm. If I heat up (get sweaty), then get cold and my body starts to shiver, that’s a different story. When a person is shivering, the body needs to work harder to maintain body temperature. Shivering can burn about 400 calories per hour (depending on how you are dressed, how long your exposed, and the temperature) but it also depletes glycogen stores and leaves you feeling fatigued. (Not a desirable state.)

Now let’s talk walking…

The calories burned during walking depend on speed and terrain. Walking from your car to your workplace in perfect weather conditions and on level ground would burn about 136 calories per hour for a 150-lb. person of average build. Making that same walk uphill in the snow, and the rate can jump to over 400 calories an hour.

According to Bill McArdle, an exercise physiologist and scientific advisor to Weight Watchers International, walking in packed snow increases the calories burned by 60 percent, compared to walking on a paved road. “Why does that happen Bill?”  “Walking in soft snow triples the calories burned because the snow provides resistance, compared to walking at the same speed on a treadmill.”  Bill also reminds people “an added benefit of using snow as resistance, is the  additional toning for large muscle groups in the legs.”

There may be one other reason for burning more calories in a cold climate compared to a warm one. In a hot environment, intense exercise can cause the body’s core temperature to rise to near dangerous levels. This can result in blood being shunted away from the working muscles to the skin, so that heat can be released. Bottom line – you can’t exercise for as long in a hot climate as you can in a cold one.

When I look at all of the time I spent outdoors shoveling, re-shoveling and then shoveling again, I can see that I did more work over a longer period of time… and I was out in the cold. I also walked a mile through almost a foot of un-shoveled snow which definitely provided some resistance to the large muscles in  my legs. No wonder I was so hungry, all that extra activity in the snow and cold burned extra calories!

Just an FYI for the hard-core winter people out there (luckyyyy) – don’t forget these outrageous winter calorie burns:
Shoveling snow = around 200 calories per 1/2 hour
Pushing a snow blower – about 100 cals. per 1/2 hour (do your neighbor’s walks)
Snow shoeing = 500 calories per hour
Sledding/tobogganing = 120 cals every 15 minutes
Cross country skiing = 500 cals. per hour
Ice skating =  500 cals. per hour
Snow boarding = 580 calls. per hour
Winslow Homer (1836-1910):  'A Winter Morning Shovelling Out', 1871