Winter Walk Day was started in Canada, and is celebrated by school children, office-workers, families and community groups. While there is no national Winter Walk To School Day in the United States (yet), in recent years events have spread to Vermont, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine and other cold-weather states, and some parts of Wisconsin dedicated the entire month of February as Winter Walk To School Month. The main focus is to get people up and moving, preferably outdoors, so they stay healthier. The goal is to go for a walk lasting at least 15 minutes.
(FYI, for those students who prefer to bike to school, your day is coming later in February. This year marks the first International Winter Bike To School Day on Friday, Feb. 12, which is the same day as International Winter Bike To Work Day. Watch for details on Sitka events soon at our Sitka Cycling website.)
Living in Alaska, it’s easy to hibernate indoors when the weather turns cold. But staying inside and not exercising can hurt your health. That’s why many Alaskans say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.” If we let bad weather keep us from doing things we’d never get anything done.
So how can people in Sitka celebrate Winter Walk Day on Feb. 3? Parents can walk their kids to school (if you don’t live near your children’s school you can drive to about a mile away from the school and walk from there). Other options are to go for a family walk after dinner, go hike one of Sitka’s trails, or get out and take a lunchtime walk. Just put one foot in front of the other and repeat as often as you can.
For those of you who worry about it might get cold, here are some tips for cold-weather walking:
- Keep hands and head covered to prevent heat loss
- On really cold days wear a scarf over your face and mouth
- Wear warm, waterproof boots (in Sitka, you might need a pair of ice cleats on icy days)
- Wear a warm coat that deflects the wind (in Sitka, make sure it’s waterproof due to our frequent rain)
- Woolen clothing helps to retain the heat (avoid cotton)
- Wear clothing or carry knapsacks with reflective material – it’s important to be seen (check with the SEARHC or Sitka Community Hospital injury prevention departments for info about free reflective tape)
- If possible, change wet clothes at school – tuck an extra pair of socks and mitts into knapsacks
- Below -25oC (-9ºF) is considered too cold for walking so move your walk indoors or select another day for outdoor activities or walking to school