• CYCLING
  • Outdoor Activities In The Time Of Covid-19

    Biking Switzerland Tiina Kivelä

    Backyard escapades are the trend these days. At least for the ones who are still allowed to go out. And it really becomes a luxury when your backyard is the Swiss Alps, with it’s mountains, hiking trails, xc-ski tracks (not in Engelberg though) and just the nature and landscapes itself.

    In here, one can really take advantage of the health benefits what being physically active (or just lazying around) in the nature offe. Outdoor activities in the time of covid-19 shouldn’t be too risky and taking all the safety measures and distance recommendations seriously is more than advisable, but they are ok and they have many benefits, like always.

    (And well, if you are like me this Tuesday, one can also very easily totally freeze her fingers and upper body when riding the bike down from the treeline. Note to self: It’s still March, the ski and skitouring high season. Not biking, despite what the temperatures from the previous weeks and closed ski resorts suggest.)

    And (not bragging but) since in the past (while carelessly sitting close to each other in restaurants and sharing the bowls of moules frites‘ with friends and strangers like no one currently) I have studied the outdoor recreation and nature based tourism and tapped in some hours in the Finnish Forest Research Institute – who conduct research on these things too –  I thought to share now some of the research findings on the health benefits of natural environment exposure.

    (On side of advising you more practically to not forget the warmer gloves and jackets and headbands if you already get up and down the hills and mountains with your bike. I think next time I take my ski gloves.)

    These are not the easiest of times for most of us, but I hope this too can help at least some to cope a bit better with the uphills and challenges. And please note the last sentence of the quote below. I know in many places the parks are closed too and urban hangouts aren’t advised even on outdoor spaces. So what’s better to know that even research shows that our favourite things, urban forests, recreation and coastal areas work better for our health and wellbeing than the now closed urban settings.

    I know, for many even these are hard to get to especially now, but I do hope we all are back to our favourite things sooner than later.

    Until that, let’s try to make the most of it despite everything, dream and plan on. What’s best, it also doesn’t cost anything.

    Please do note though, if you are going out these days – walking, biking, running, easy hikes and (xc) ski tours –please keep in mind the recommendations of your local health authority. Which in Switzerland means that one should keep as close home as possible, keep at least 2 meter distance to every other person, avoid public transport, not meet/gather with more than 5 people etc. (The Swiss authority instructions in many languages can be found in here.) Also, if you in example are in Swiss Canton Uri and over 65, you shouldn’t go out at all. (And if you are under 65 and healthy, go help your neighbour and the over 65 year old near you.)

    It’s also always advisable – and especially now–  to do your best to avoid injuries and other emergencies. Covid-19 is a huge challenge for the whole healthcare and emergency response system and you shouldn’t be the one going to the hospital with broken leg right now. So keep it safe, keep it your responsible careful granny/grandpa -style, and keep it delivering the good, not bad.

    See you on the other side!

    Spending time and being physically active in nature promotes well-being and health. Nature helps us recover from the effects of stress and forget our everyday worries. It also lifts our moods. The effects are manifested in lower blood pressure and a stabilised heart rate.

    Spending time in our favourite spots in nature, in particular, restores us. Experiences of restoration in reported favourite spots such as recreation areas, urban forests and coastal areas are stronger than those reported in favourite spots such as parks or built-up urban environments.

    Quote: The Natural Resources Institute Finland– The effects of nature on well-being


    Where: My backyard (Engelberg, Switzerland)

  • BLOG
  • Getting Space – Lapland

    Tiina Kivelä

    I’ve finally made my way to the better (northern) side of the Arctic Circle, the real Lapland. More precisely, I’m typing this from a hotel lobby(when the WiFi doesn’t reach your room, in 2017) in Saariselkä fell resort, where I’m about to run some 15km+ today and tomorrow. While trying to adjust to the landscape which is so enormous and flat. And to the sky which is so big that it’s impossible to describe. You have to feel it.

    Talking about feelings, it’s strange to be back. I guess it’s like with the altitude – you shouldn’t rush to it but let yourself slowly adjust to a different kind of life. Or then you end up like me now… The whole body aching from making my way from sweaty Switzerland to the chilly Lapland on Wednesday after one hour sleep (the 1st of August party was definitely worth the tiredness though). I even had 3 checked in bags and 4 pieces of hand luggage with me (don’t tell the airline; I still don’t know how I did it). Whoopsie.

    And like that wouldn’t have been enough, during the two days in Lapland I’ve already found myself working, orienteering (our family likes to gather in forests) and meeting Santa and stumbling on the rocky paths to acquire some bad ass bruises and scratches (it seems to be that the less risk there is, like 2000m cliff by the trail, the more I stumble). I am rushing with this and feel dizzy, even though I should know better. But if I concentrate on the distance, look at the horizon far far away and think how far the mountains are… I’m not sure if I really want to think about the distance right now.

    Though it’s not so bad really, to slow down. What Lapland lacks in weather, mountains, urban settings and a number of people, it compensates with space, wilderness, freedom and sauna. And the reindeer paths, windy and rarely leading to anywhere, make me think that those creatures seem to know something crucial about freedom. How it’s not about the destination really, but about the journey. Or they are just lost and simply don’t care. Either way, let’s enjoy the ride, whatever speed.

    Now I have to run to run, but please be tuned for more Lapland stories. The map below will also acquire more content soon. Take care, stumble less, and see you later!