Alberta Cancer Foundation

The Wonders of Winter Walking

Illustration by Spencer Fleck

It’s common knowledge that regular exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, but you don’t need to take on a vigorous training regimen to reap health benefits. At the American Society for Clinical Oncology conference in June 2017, two new studies were presented showing how just 25 minutes of brisk walking per day could slow down cancer and significantly reduce the risk of death by the disease.

Erin van Blarigan, a doctor and researcher working on one of the studies, recommends everyone — including cancer patients — gets around 150 minutes of exercise per week and says that brisk walking is a good form of exercise.

Joining a walking group is one way to get motivated and keep moving throughout the winter season. Wendie Swirski, a personal trainer and manager of The Running Room’s Eau Claire location in Calgary, says her store’s walking group was spearheaded by local walking enthusiast Alan Gregory more than 10 years ago. Today, more than 20 motivated walkers meet twice a week — regardless of snow, ice or freezing temperatures — to get outside and get walking, and to do it with a social, supportive group.

Swirski believes that cold weather is not an excuse to put away your walking or running shoes. “When it’s cold outside, nothing changes. It’s just about being prepared,” she says. And for her, winter walking isn’t just about the numerous physical health benefits. It has mental ones, too.

“Winter walking is fun. It’s refreshing and it’s invigorating,” says Swirski. “And I think it gives you a sense of being a superhero. There’s a feeling of, ‘If I can walk outside in the winter, I can do anything!’”

Winter Walking Gear Guide

Wendie Swirski offers tips on essential gear for comfortable winter walking.

Illustration by Spencer Flock

Base layer

“Choose a synthetic base layer or one that is wool or silk — no cotton, as it doesn’t wick away sweat.”


“You’ll want to wear another layer on top of your base layer. I recommend The Running Room’s Extreme Balaclava Jacket.”

Good shoes

“Try Get a Grip ice joggers that slip over the bottom of your running shoe for more traction. Or try trail shoes, which have more aggressive treads than regular running shoes.”

Calgary Scenic Walking Route

Start and finish
The Running Room Eau Claire, Calgary

Go west along the Bow River pathway to the pedestrian bridge just before 10th Street N.W. Return on the north side of the Bow River and cross through Prince’s Island Park to get back to Eau Claire Market.

Total distance
3.2 kilometres

Edmonton Scenic Walking Route

Start and finish
Edmonton Dragon Boat Racing Club, Edmonton

Take the pathway through Dawson Park and Kinnaird Park to Wayne Gretzky Drive N.W. Turn around here, or cross the bridge and come back on the other side of the North Saskatchewan River.

Total distance
6.1 kilometres