When Carrie Lauzon decided to ditch city life in favour of her small, Northern Ontario hometown, she wasn’t just reunited with her family. She rediscovered her love of nature through hiking.

“I used to hike all of the time growing up. I forgot about it when I moved away to the city,” she says. “I spent so long there and ended up so anxious and depressed, so I made a huge change to move up north. The minute the snow melted, I went for a hike in the bush and immediately fell in love with life.”

Hiking is something that anyone, regardless of skill or activity level can participate in. Whether it’s starting off small with a light trail to tackling 20km hikes in the mountains, it can be a rewarding and affordable activity. Many doctors recommend hiking to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure, and strengthen core muscles.

Like many others, Lauzon felt unhappy in a traditional gym environment. Through hiking, she found a passion for physical activity.

“I hate exercising and the gym was torture for me. Hiking was something that this broke ass millennial could do. I never knew it could change me this much. The more I explored and climbed, the stronger I got, which led me to push myself even further.”

Hiking also provided mental benefits, as she found the regular exercise helped curb anxiety symptoms. The newfound confidence helped her at work and in her personal life as well.

“Now when I’m having a hard time, I disappear in the bush for a few hours and come out recharged and refreshed,” she says.

Edmonton is home to countless hiking trails, varying in skill levels, so there is something for everyone. Anyone could toss on a pair of sneakers, grab a friend and a bottle of water and get a workout while exploring some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.

Lauzon suggests to ensure you research the area (for terrain and any natural predators) before taking the jump, so you don’t end up in a potentially dangerous situation.

“I’m often jumping cities so I look around my area on Google Maps. Google Maps is pretty amazing in that it’ll often show trails so you’ll have a good idea of what you’re in for.”

Lauzon also suggests to bring a backpack with some small tools (such as Swiss army knife), food and water with you.

If this is your first hike, don’t be afraid to start small and build up your confidence level before tackling the advanced trails. You don’t need to tackle an advanced trail in Banff; you can try out one of the trails in the local park. Just like with any activity; the important thing is that you have fun,


By Mary-Helen Clark