Early Sunday morning, arriving at the Calgary airport from a trip to Toronto, I received a text from a close friend.  They were in Canmore (my home) wondering if I wanted to catch up and get some outdoor exercise. In Toronto, I sat on the Prescription to Get Active panel regarding the need to support people doing exercise at home and in the outdoors.


I had already made plans to head to the gym for a quick 45 minutes of exercise. But I had a dilemma: Inside a room or out in the mountains? We were to meet at the local mountain creek to build a watering hole, like we did many years ago.


Arriving home, throwing on work pants (not gym strip) walking up Cougar Creek (not driving to the gym) we spent close to two hours wrestling with boulders (not free weights) of all sizes to dam up a section of the creek.


The result:  A watering hole for all to jump into, plus a load of exercise moving rocks.

Prior to the notorious 2013 Cougar creek flood he and I would get our dose of outdoor weight workouts in the summer months almost weekly shifting boulders of all sizes. Each year we rebuilt and strengthened our decades old glorious watering hole. But the flood changed all that. The flood deposited tons of rock debris filing in the watering hole. Then bulldozers reconstructed the creek to mitigate flood risk.  The watering hole devastated, lives got busier, it became a past memory.


One and a half hours later (common time for gym visits) we got our workout in the outdoors building a watering hole.

A few realizations:


1.      Outdoor workouts usually accomplish something different versus moving weights back and forth.  When I was cross-country ski racing, part of summer training’s upper body workouts included hewing wood  to establish explosive upper body power. Cutting grass is great for introductory exercising of the lower body against resistance. And then there is Cougar creek this past Sunday. I reconnected with my mountain soul and friendships, the outcome, a new watering hole to jump into.


2.     Outdoors versus Indoors?  We all have a soul, a spiritual side that is primarily recalibrated in experiencing natural surrounding. That is inarguable. Our emotional DNA has evolved in natural surroundings.  Experiencing nature while being active. Mentally breathing it in. Moving in ever changing surroundings. The alternative?  Outdoors versus Indoors? For me, the choice is simple BUT exercise professionals in the fitness facilities provide much needed guidance and experienced eyes when I need it. They offer an essential piece to a balanced program.


3.     Outdoor activities have this deeper added benefit of accomplishment. Cut grass. Hewn wood. New watering hole J. Distances traveled. There is accomplishment.


4.     When complete one can admire ones exercise accomplishment.


5.     An additional, mostly unrecognized opportunity was the conversation, the bonding, the time spent teaching a 12-year-old about lifting properly, etc. Arguably this could have been accomplished within four walls. Arguably it took a little more time. But inarguably we are here to live.


Life is about experiences. To make being active lifelong I believe we have to look at and grasp the opportunities to be outdoors as the core to our active lives.  This can happen anywhere. Downtown Toronto streets, a morning run and 36 hours later in the Canadian Rockies building a watering hole. But both are outdoors.


Enjoy your Outdoors… wherever your life may be. And when you visit Canmore, take a stroll up Cougar creek trail and if its warm there is a watering hole, compliments of some outdoor activity.



Dr Peter Rawlek,

Creator of GoGet.Fit

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