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Beating the Blues

Although both of us are from the northeastern United States originally, Jeff and I are not fans of winter weather. My mom’s house in the Adirondack Mountains was just hit with more than a foot of snow. Blech!

When you combine winter weather with a pandemic that has most of us hunkering down? Nope, not a fan.

But it’s not realistic to stay inside for five months, especially since we are both very active people. My ability to remain mobile demands daily exercise – no joke. Having a chronic health condition means battling it out every day.

This left us looking for opportunities to get out of the house and get moving. We have a small group of friends we meet up with every few weeks for a socially-distanced hike, but we were looking for more.

Especially now, when we are all so wrapped up in technology, that break outside is good for our bodies and our minds. Disconnect to reconnect.

According to Dr. Cedric Bryant, president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, walking can help:

  • Improve your cardiovascular health and function
  • Increase your aerobic capacity
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Control your blood sugar and reduce your risk of diabetes
  • Increase your metabolism
  • Maintain your weight
  • Reduce your risk or osteoarthritis
  • Maintain mobility

Of course, you want to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, and you need to listen to your body once you do, but walking is a great option for many.

Anyway, thanks to a little research and a few good friends, we found a few ideas to help get you moving!


CVNP2 Challenge

If you have a park system nearby, there may be a hiking challenge you can take on. In northeast Ohio, Western Reserve Racing coordinates a 24-route challenge, covering 115 miles of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park system. Yeah, we know. 115 miles is a lot. But you do what you can, right?

When you register for $50, Western Reserve will send you a routes to take through the parks. You then have until the end of April to complete your routes.

You can set your own schedule, maybe fitting in a short hike right after work? I know I need a good hour of movement after hours spent working at my desk.

And weekends are a great time for a longer hike – or two! If you have kids – bring them along. Put the baby in a pack, grab an all-terrain stroller for the grandkids, snap on some snowshoes and go!

You can track your progress using the AllTrails app, and log your completed routes on the CVNP2 web site. Get virtual badges and real world bling for bragging rights!

Full disclosure, we are not participating in this particular challenge (you’ll see why below), but friends of ours have taken this on, and we are following along, marking the cool hikes they are taking so we can hit them later. There is nothing wrong with letting someone else’s challenge inspire you for later.

Check out parks near you for opportunities, and let us know what you find. We’re travelers by nature (no pun intended), so we love hearing about great new places to hike.


Taji100

The Taji 100 is a great challenge for people who are looking to help others, even as they help themselves beat the blues. First held at Camp Taji, Iraq in February of 2010, the event has grown to encompass people and countries from all over the world.

Deployments are hard on soldiers, and the goal of that first event was almost as much about relieving stress as it was about health and fitness.

Since the event moved stateside in 2011, participants have signed up to walk, ruck or run 100 miles during the month of February – the equivalent of a 5K each day.

Like the CVNP2, there is a tracking dashboard where you can log your miles. There is a free registration option, but this is also a fundraiser, and you can purchase a package with some awesome bling if you like cool stuff.

A portion of the proceeds benefit Team RWB, an organization by veterans, their friends and families, for veterans, their friends and families.

Register through February 5th at https://taji100.com/


Charity Challenges

Our household is pretty competitive, so when friends start up some friendly trash-talking, we’re pretty quick to jump on the challenge. And apparently, we are not alone.

Charity Challenges is the brainchild of a Twitter trash-talking group of friends way back in 2013.

Originally a Pull-Up Challenge, the event expanded to include rucking in 2015, and the friends decided to up the ante by raising money for charity.

There are a variety of challenges on the page, but we will probably never be competitive in pull-ups, push-ups or lunges. Walking, hiking and rucking are what we do best, so we chose the 2021 Charity Challenge 1,000 Mile Challenge.

This challenge benefits both the Green Beret Foundation and Team RWB, and encourages participants to shoot for 1,000 miles by the end of the year. There’s no daily requirement, so you can flex the miles. And even if you are unable to complete the full 1,000 miles, you can feel proud of hitting 300 and 700 miles. Reward yourself by purchasing milestone patches, perfect for your backpack or gym bag.

As with the other options we’ve shared with you, there is a dashboard to help you keep track of your progress.

One of the features we really like is the Virtual Patch. For every 20 miles you complete and log, one of the boxes on the ‘patch’ is crossed off. It may seem silly, but Jeff and I actually compare who has more boxes completed. I told you we were competitive!

Registration costs $10 at charitychallenges.org.


A final option to consider is checking out the gyms near you. Many gyms across the country are offering outdoor classes on rooftops and in parks. From New York City to San Francisco, gyms are finding ways to keep clients safe – and moving.

These are unprecedented times, and everyone is facing challenges. It can be difficult to feel connected to the world at large. Sharing activities, even virtually, can help bridge the gap.

Keeping physically active is good for our bodies and our minds. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do this. And we can all beat the blues.

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