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10 Ways to Kick-Start Your Health This January

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By Meg Cuthbert

Happy New Year!

This time of year is typically when we start making resolutions to be healthier, happier, and maybe even to lose a couple of pounds we packed on during the holidays. In the Cowichan Valley, there are ample opportunities to focus on your health this January that will fuel your body, activate your mind and get you set for a fabulous 2018!

1. Hit the Trails

The entire Cowichan region is woven together by hiking and biking trails. Start the year by getting your heart pumping outside. If you’re looking for hiking, lace up your boots for multiple trails on Maple Mountain, the orange trail winds its way up the mountain to the summit while the blue travels along the coast. Check out the full Maple Mountain hiking map here.

The Cowichan Valley is a mountain biker’s playground and Maple Mountain is also an excellent spot for mountain bikers of all skill levels. This region is such an excellent mountain biking spot that this year Mount Tzouhalem and Maple Mountain will host the first stage of the BC Bike Race.

If you’re looking for something with a lower grade for walking and cycling, head out to the Cowichan Valley Trail. This 122-kilometre multi-use trail starts at the top of the Malahat, passes over the historic Kinsol Trestle and winds its way through the valley all the way to Nanaimo. As of last fall, it is officially linked to Canada’s Great Trail that connects the entire country!

Here are five fabulous Cowichan hikes: www.tourismcowichan.com/favourite-hikes-in-the-cowichan-valley/

2. Fuel Yourself

One of the key components of a healthy lifestyle is diet. Cowichan is home to over 800 farms and with all that fresh food you’ll want to check out the Duncan Farmers’ Market. Open every Saturday of the year it is the perfect spot to find fresh local food.

On a chilly January day, warm yourself up with some wood-fired pizza at Prima Strada Pizzeria. Made with fresh, local ingredients these pizzas are perfect for sharing . . . or not sharing!

Explore good food with good wine at Vinoteca at Zanatta. This restaurant and wine bar operates out of Zanatta Winery’s original 1903 farmhouse. Embrace the warm atmosphere and wholesome food while dining in a piece of Cowichan history.

3. Have Some Me Time

After the hectic holiday season, it’s time to take some time for yourself. Book a stay at the Villa Eyrie’s Tuscan Spa. Treat yourself to a manicure or swim in their private oasis with views overlooking the Saanich Inlet. Make it a day by having some time in nature at Spectacle Lake before hitting the spa.

After some well-deserved downtime, you might as well spend the night on top of the mountain!

4. Test the Greens

Energize your mind, get your blood pumping and breathe in some fresh air with a round of golf!

With courses open 12 months of the year (depending on snowfall) you can practice that swing anytime! Of course, one of the perks of winter golfing is letting your friends and family in the rest of Canada know that you’re out on the course in January!

Find out more about what Cowichan has to offer golfers here.

5. Slow Right Down

Often taking care of your mental health means slowing down and soaking in your environment. Cowichan Bay is Canada’s first Cittaslow community. Cittaslow is a “slow-city” which means taking the time to slow down and savour life one moment at a time.

In Cowichan Bay, you can dine at the Rock Cod Cafe and enjoy local seafood from their OceanWise menu, or try a fresh scent at the Wild Coast Perfumery. Linger awhile, and peruse the local shops and cafes along Cowichan Bay’s seaside road.

6. Recharge In Nature with Forest Bathing

Studies show that spending time in nature reduces stress and can restore your mental energy. Forest Bathing is a Japanese restorative health practice of spending relaxation time in nature or being in the presence of trees. Studies done in Japan showed that people spending 30 minutes in nature had lower cortisol levels (which increases with stress).

Cowichan has many great places to step out into nature. You can walk the leisurely 3-km loop at Stoney Hill or take a stroll on the Cowichan River Footpath to soak in not only the trees but the sounds of the rushing river.

7. Experience Culture

Taking time to experience a region through its unique arts and culture is the perfect way to feed your mind and soul this January. In Cowichan, there are rich and diverse arts and culture at every turn.

Stretch your legs and take in some history with a walk down Ladysmith’s Historic 1st Avenue and see for yourself why is was recently awarded the title of Canada’s Great Street. Or take a self-guided tour through the Duncan Totem Walk and learn about the local First Nations who have inhabited this region for thousands of years.

With most of this region’s communities set against the shoreline, you’ll want to stop in at the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre to learn about a piece of Cowichan’s maritime history.

For the arts lovers, you’ll want to stretch your legs in Chemainus to explore their community mural project.

8. Take an Intimate Getaway

Cowichan has some of the quaintest Bed and Breakfasts on the Island, which are perfect for slowing down this January. Book yourself a mini getaway to reflect on the past year or plan your best year yet!

The Maple Bay Manor is ideal for a luxurious getaway, naturally set along Quamichan Lake, this Bed and Breakfast is the perfect spot to unwind and recharge for the year ahead.

Book your stay at the Farm Table Inn. Nestled between Duncan and Lake Cowichan, this country-style inn is a central spot for exploring the region. Enjoy cozy nights in the Bed and Breakfast and dine from the Inn’s local menu in the restaurant.

Find more fabulous retreats with Cowichan B&Bs here.

9. Lace Up

Looking to shed some extra pounds tacked on during the holiday season? Sign up for the Cobble Hill 10k. Get your legs moving and your heart pumping as you run along some of Cowichan’s most scenic farmland in Cobble Hill.

10. Unplug and Plug-In

Studies show that belonging to a strong social group will make you happier. This year unplug from your phone and devices and spend some quality time with friends and family. What better way to get together than with live music and craft beer? Check out Riot Brewing in Chemainus for their long list of activities, and get the group together for some board games, live music and craft beer.

Bridgeman’s Bistro hosts live music over the water. Take in the stunning scenery of Mill Bay while listening to live music and sipping on a signature cocktail!

Wherever this year takes you, we wish you a very happy and healthy 2018!

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