Hello SUPERchicks

Unbelievable! The end of my eight months trip is near. But before breaking down in tears I enjoyed the beauty of British Columbia, Canada. I’ve already spent a lot of time in Beautiful British Columbia but every single time I come back here I love it even more!

Vancouver ranks as Canada’s healthiest city. And I believe this is justified. Surrounded by the snow caped tips of the Rocky Mountains on sea level the Vancouverites have all kinds of outdoor sports on their doorstep: skiing/snowboarding, kayaking, running, rollerblading, climbing are only a little selection of a vast menu of activities to choose from. Yoga is probably the activity everyone seems to do. At every corner there is a yoga studio, every third store on the high-street sells yoga-inspired clothing.

Apart from all common yoga classes I came across “Laughter Yoga”, which made me giggle just by the pure thought of it. Everybody knows how contagious laughter can be, so I had a bit of a research into the benefits of laughter. Apart from getting you obviously in a good mood it causes a number of chemical changes within the body. Good hearty laughter helps release enzymes and hormones that are helpful for normal functioning of various organs. This is due to a connection between laughing and stimulation of brain and different glands. Laughter reduces the levels of certain hormones, namely cortisol, growth hormone, epinephrine and dopac, which are associated with stress response. Thus it helps relieve stress, depression, anxiety, grief, anger and irritation. Laughing also decreases pain by releasing a hormone, endorphins. It improves our attentiveness, pulse and heart rate. Laughing is proven to be very beneficial for the people suffering from hypertension. It helps lower the blood pressure to normal. Laughing causes deeper breathing and increase in blood flow, due to which oxygen and essential nutrients are supplied to all body parts. Laughter is a good workout for respiratory, abdominal, leg, back and facial muscles. It tones intestinal functioning, massages abdominal organs and strengthens abdominal muscles. This activity is advantageous for digestion as well as absorption. Laughter also helps burn calories and is beneficial for weight loss. I might consider a “Laughter Yoga” class myself with those many benefits!

During my time in Vancouver they had one of the biggest sporting events, besides the Winter Olympics earlier that year, for the first time there. The UFC – the Ultimate Fighting Competition, where fighters from all backgrounds come together and test their art. Whilst I’m not really into fighting sport, my friend Troy who was in the commission that brought the UFC to Vancouver got me excited about it, just purely because he was so excited about it. He was literally meeting all his UFC heros and shadowing them on the night of the event. Shame that during the biggest fight of the night Liddell, the guy who was shadowed by my friend, got knocked-out by his opponent Franklin. I can only imagine the adrenalin of my friend flowing whilst the crowed in the sold-out GM Place stadium got wild.

But I didn’t spend my time only in Vancouver, I travelled to Vancouver Island in the South, to the Okanagen, where I tried out some yummy Canadian wines and admired the only desert in Canada in Osoyoos, before I stopped in the Slocan Valley to visit another friend of mine and her family. On my drive there I came past a variety of natural hot springs, endless long and deep lakes, alpine meadows and mountains as far as they eye could see. Also being deep in bear country meant that I crossed the path of 13 bears. I could only hope that the number wasn’t a bad omen.

Golfing, biking, canoeing, skiing and of course hiking are the main sportive attractions in the Slocan Valley. Obviously with all those magnificent mountains and scenery I was spending a lot of time hiking, walking and jogging. Luckily my friend has a Siberian Husky who protected me from unwished encounters with bears. One hike took me 8km straight up a steep mountain to a fire look-out point. From 3km in I was really glad to have the dog with me. Signs that bears are active in the area are: turned over rocks – tick; shredded trees – tick; bear fur on the ground – tick. Obviously all the bears were awake and testing theirs strengths on the trees, finding food under the rocks and doing some fur maintenance. Glad Truman, the Husky was there to chase the bears away before I even saw them. As Huskies are born to run I really enjoyed having a dog with me when going for a run as it took my mind off the fact that running sometimes can eventually be a bit boring. Dogs are great running companions, they are reliable and adjust to whatever pace you want to run. Plus no matter what weather, you’ll have to go outside with them. So instead of a slow stroll, why not go for a run?

The town (well with 400 people living there it’s rather more a village) my friend lives in has rather traditional roots which have nourished an eclectic community, and is probably the funkiest little town in the Slocan Valley, which celebrates its diverse lifestyles and liberal ways. So one night my friend took me with her to an African Dance class. African Dance in Canada? Right… I was probably more than just a bit sceptical, but I was also curious. So I moved my two left feet together with my friend to a barn conversion where I was about to experience an hour and a half of serious work-out with great fun. As is usual with African music where multiple rhythms are played simultaneously, we had two drummer. It’s an interpretative and whole body expression dance. The low impact and highly energetic dance movements are translated into a series of choreographed movements that burn calories down, build stamina and endurance and get the excitement going. Movements in African dances are simplified as a part of daily activities so that anybody – even I – can do them. Dancers must feel how their body parts move. Participation in rhythmic movement, especially dance, triggers a mind/body response that helps people become more relaxed, more focused, and, in turn, more creative.

I had a brilliant time travelling around the world and finding health and fitness related topics per country to write about. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog.

Gaby

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