Staying fit while exploring nature

Hiking along Horseshoe Canyon, AB (Photo by Brett Gilmour)

Hiking along Horseshoe Canyon, AB (Photo by Brett Gilmour)

August 14, 2017 | by Alyssa Barbero

When I was applying for jobs, I focused on positions that would get me outside and that were in the conservation field. During my job hunt, I applied for a position with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) as a summer conservation technician, and was lucky enough to be chosen for the role. I knew this job would be full of outdoor summer adventures, and an opportunity to learn and create friendships with the people I would be working with. But an added benefit has been how active it's allowed me to be.

I’ve been active all my life, but have never kept track of how active I really was. This past year, I received a Fitbit for my birthday and I love it. I can program it to keep track of daily milestones, such as the number of steps I want to reach per day. I use my Fitbit daily, and it challenges me to reach my 10,000 steps a day goal. While working in the field with NCC, it’s easy to get 10,000 steps a day, but on a day when I’m working in the office, it can be more challenging to stay active.

On our first property monitoring day, I made sure my Fitbit was fully charged. As we continued hiking up steep terrain, down mountainsides and through conifer forests, I would read my Fitbit and be amazed to discover how many steps I had taken. A Fitbit or other fitness tracker is a great way to remind yourself to get moving and can help you stay or get in shape.

Alyssa's Fitbit stats after a day monitoring NCC's Cervo 2 property in Alberta.

Alyssa's Fitbit stats after a day monitoring NCC's Cervo 2 property in Alberta.

Working in the southwest region of Alberta has been a great way to stay fit because of all the mountains and different topography I get to experience and navigate through. The properties that natural area manager Tony McCue and I focus on encompass steep terrain, large areas and forested canopies. This makes for some intense hiking! Within the Fitbit data, I can track how many floors I have climbed throughout the day, including stairs, and slopes with high elevation. After a day out in the field, my “floor count” is usually very high because of the steep terrain we monitor on our properties.

In addition to getting a great workout, we’re able to see and listen to all sorts of wildlife, from large mammals to avian species, to amphibians. Every day Tony and I are out hiking and monitoring the land, we see something new, whether it be wildlife off in the distance or a new forb or grass species. Sometimes I find myself so distracted by all the nature around me that I forget I’m getting exercise!

I’ve been reviewing my Fitbit data after a field day is completed and the results are unbelievable and astonishing. This is some of the highest activity my Fitbit has seen. Some days are better than others, depending on the terrain we hiked or if the weather cooperated.

An NCC summer position isn’t only about the hiking or the steps taken while out in the field; it’s where those steps will lead in the future.

Alyssa Barbero (Photo courtesy Alyssa Barbero)

About the Author

Alyssa Barbero recently received her diploma in renewable resource management from Lethbridge College and will be returning in the fall to complete her ecosystem management degree.

Read more about Alyssa Barbero.

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