COLUMN: Exercise leads to discovering neighbourhood parks

NANAIMO - Blueback stairs makeover makes for a safer exercise routine.

Sitting in a chair all day at a desk isn’t great for my health.

That’s why this spring I started to get a little bit more active. The first step I took was making myself get out on my lunch hour and go for walks.

I’ll eat my lunch at my desk and then hoof it down the hill from my office to the park at the end of the street.

It’s a small thing that can make a difference in the long run.

Last year I moved to the north end and decided that meant there wasn’t any excuse not to do the stairs at the Blueback Road beach access.

After all, they are just down the street from my condo. So I figured that meant there was no excuse for me not to go do them.

Those stairs are brutal for beginners.

Going to the top the first few times made me feel like my lungs were going to give out, but I’ve steadily noticed an improvement over the last few weeks.

My endurance has improved and hills that used to wind me are much easier to tackle thanks to the increased activity.

I was delighted to come across signs of construction work on the Blueback stairs a couple of weeks ago.

The stairs are a popular workout area and the upper ones were rotting and seemed to be oddly spaced. It was getting difficult to walk on them so I would often do the lower portion three or four times instead of walking all the way to the bottom and then up to the top again.

I’m really pleased that the City of Nanaimo is repairing those stairs. It’s a great spot to get in shape and with the upgrades I feel safer using them.

Going up those stairs twice a week also made me discover the importance of a good pair of running shoes. For the first two weeks I was getting some pretty bad shin splints. They were getting so bad that the front of my legs were turning numb.

I came to the realization it was my shoes that were causing all the problems and the issue began to disappear after I changed to a pair with more support.

While I haven’t lost any weight so far, getting out and exercising has had other benefits such as increasing my lung capacity and endurance. I feel healthier.

During my neighbourhood and lunch hour jaunts I’ve also discovered several local parks that I don’t think I would have seen otherwise.

I always go for walks at Neck Point and Pipers Lagoon Park, but some of the smaller parks I never visited until I decided to travel on foot instead of by car. There is nothing like discovering a really awesome park for the first time. And this city has some real hidden gems.

Lunchtime jaunts have taken me to Barney Moriez Park, Beach Estates Park and the Chinese Memorial Garden on Stewart Avenue.

I never knew the Beach Estates Park existed until I heard a co-worker talk about it one day at the office. I thought I would go check it out. The entrance is right behind the Brooks Landing shopping centre.