Your Municipal Physical Activity Strategy – Naturally Active for Life Victoria County (Est. 2011) encourages you to be Naturally Active for Life in our abundance of natural environment leading to an active & healthy lifestyle, especially with all the recent snow.

This winter, let’s not use the weather as an excuse for not being naturally active in our great outdoors – Victoria County is NS’s Outdoor Winter Destination All Seasons!! Let’s dress appropriately! There are so many evidence-based benefits in nature and being outdoors!



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Follow Your Heart – Share What You Find!#ExploreCBWinter


Share Your Adventure – #ExploreCBWinter

Embrace Winter Snowmobiling on Cape Breton Island

Share Your Adventure – #ExploreCBWinter

Embrace Winter Skiing on Cape Breton Island

Share Your Adventure – #ExploreCBWinter

Embrace Winter Snowshoeing on Cape Breton Island

Share Your Adventure – #ExploreCBWinter

Evidence shows that being present in a natural setting accrues health benefits not seen in participants who spend their time in urban environment. These benefits both mentally &  physically include:

  • Increased cognitive function (demonstrated through a proof-reading task) (Hartig et al., 1991)
  • Increased happiness (Hartig et al., 1991).
  • Perceived rejuvenation (Hartig et al., 1991).
  • Improved attention span (Cimprich, 1992).
  • Greater motivation to address challenges in one’s life (Cimprich, 1992).
  • Stabilized heart rate (Lee et al., 2011; Li et al., 2008a)
  • Reduced production of stress hormones (Lee et al., 2011).
  • Enhanced responsiveness to stimuli (Lee et al., 2011).
  • Heightened immune system function & increased production of anti-cancer proteins (Li et al., 2008a; Li et al., 2008b).
  • Increases in spiritual inspiration (Fredrickson & Anderson, 1999).



  • Outdoor recreation can improve the health of Victoria County residents & visitors. With an abundance of natural environment in Victoria County, our lands with accompanying programs play a role in the future. Parks & forests play a key role helping people achieve healthy lifestyles. They provide convenient, inexpensive places in which to recreate; and there is strong evidence that when people have access to parks, forests & greenways they exercise more! “…research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature—in positive ways.” —Richard Louv

(Sources above: )


  • The risk of developing 7 chronic diseases associated with physical inactivity of an inactive lifestyle include: coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. The rate of occurrence of physical inactivity was taken from the 2009 Canadian Health Measures Study commissioned by the federal government and was set at 82.9% for men and 86.3% for women. The total cost of physical inactivity in Canada is set at $6.8 billion annually (Janssen, 2012).

(Sources above: )


  • There is strong evidence in favor of outdoor recreation as a means of improving physical health. Given the potential for outdoor recreation activities to attract participants and foster life-long hobbies, there is optimism to promoting physical fitness through these activities.


In a study by Hartig et al. (1991b), participants were placed into one of three groups. The first two groups spent 40 minutes walking in either a natural or urban setting, the third group listened to peaceful music for 40 minutes. The nature walking group outperformed the other two groups on a subsequent proofreading task and reported feeling more rejuvenated than the other groups. Finally, Kaplan cites a study by Cimprich (1992) that examined the attentional capacity of recovering cancer patients. Patients who took part in restorative activities in a natural setting showed significant improvements with respect to attention and were significantly more likely to return to work. They were also more likely to take up new goals such as improving their physical fitness.


The health benefits of a natural setting are not limited to the mind, however. A number of studies by Japanese researchers into the idea of Shinrin Yoko (literally “forest bathing”) suggest that there may be additional health benefits to the immune system. Researchers compared psychological & physiological data from groups of participants who were assigned to excursions in either a natural or an urban setting. In addition to the psychologically restorative effects described by Kaplan, showed reduced stress hormones in the bodies of participants in the natural setting condition as well as a lower resting heart rate


(Lee, et al., 2011). Similar studies have found increased presence of “natural killer cells” in the blood of people who spent time in natural environments. Natural killer cells (NKCs) are a part of the body’s response to invading pathogens like viruses and bacteria (Li et al., 2008a; Li et al., 2008 b). Researchers also found increased numbers of anti-cancer proteins in the body after time spent in nature. The active agent in this immune system response is thought to be airborne chemicals called phytoncides, which are released by trees (Li, et al., 2006). Recent research has suggested that a specific phytoncide called alpha-pinene can reduce tumor growth in mice when introduced as an aromatherapeutic treatment (Kusuhara et al., 2012).

Cape Breton Island Winter Tourism

6 Minute Video (Password: 2017)

Destination Cape Breton Winter Reel

  • 7th Annual Victoria County Winter ActiveFest 2018 with snowshoe hikes, downhill & cross-country skiing, entertainment, yoga, fitness, walking, luncheons, square dancing, skating, healthy eating & gardening sessions, after school activities, wellness rooms, ceilidhs and a whole lot held for the entire family – It is a great way to get out and enjoy winter! (On the World Famous Cabot Trail). Beat the winter blues, “Take The Roof Off Winter” & “Make Room For Play” for you & your family, new & old friends, neighbors & co-workers. ActiveFest. Includes  7th Annual JJ McDermott Long John Jaunt 2018 . Boularderie Elementary School. There is an 11am start time for “slower” runners and the official start is at 12 noon. Did you know that JJ McDermott was the winner of the very first Boston Marathon, and was from Boularderie Island (where this race is held) in Cape Breton? So by participating you are connecting with an important piece of Nova Scotia running history. Distance: 21.1K, For further information, please contact Cyril MacDonald by Email:


Safe Riders Snowmobile Safety Awareness Program

-Cabot Snowmobile Club /

-Crowdis Mountain Snowmobile Club /


Skiing is linked to a number of benefits to physical health.

Research shows moderate participation in skiing is easily tolerated by adults and elderly participants can reap significant benefits as well. Skiing offers outdoor recreation for the winter months:

  • Enhanced hormone production (Kahn et al., 1996).
  • Lasting improvements to both resting heart rate and blood pressure (Kahn et al., 1996; Niederseer et al., 2011).
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in both middle aged and elderly participants (Kahn et al., 1996; Niederseer et al., 2011).
  • Improvements to how efficiently the body absorbs oxygen (Mueller et al., 2011).
  • Improved jump height, dynamic leg strength, and balance in the elderly (Mueller et al., 2011).

A Lot of Skiing Opportunities are Available in Victoria County:

  • Great groomed cross-country skiing trails &/or snowshoeing at North Highlands Nordic Trails in Cape North when conditions permit  / Ski Room 902.383.2479 . NHN Programs and Events: • Bunny Rabbit Program – preschoolers, • Jackrabbits – elementary students, • Track Attack – racing program, Proud member of Cross Country Ski Nova Scotia & Cross Country Canada. For more info call 383-2479 or go to the website under events.
  • Tuesdays: Ski Snowshoe & Tea – Adults, Tuesdays, join your friends or meet new friends at 10:00 am for a leisurely ski, snowshoe and return to the heated ski room for a cup of tea. Group rates apply. North Highlands Nordic, Cape North.
  • Ski Tuonela is the Maritimes only serviced Telemark ski area when conditions permit. The Village is a 4 km. ski-in from the Cabot Trail. Ski Tuonela offers awesome backcountry/outback skiing with a gladed Telemark hill with a 1400′ run over a 400′ vertical, 18 kms of cross country trails, equipment rentals, chalet accommodations and sauna. Located on the Cabot Trail, in Goose Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Ski Tuonela is just 1 hour from Sydney and 20 minutes from Baddeck.
  • Cape Breton Nordic Ski Club – Watch for further details, follow them on FB for all the updates and networking!


Hiking has been linked to health benefits such as:

  • 50% reduction in the risk of coronary artery disease (Hakim et al., 1999).
  • Improved heart function – is comparable to a moderate intensity workout on a stationary bike (Huonker et al., 1997).
  • Improved insulin sensitivity (Lee et al., 2004; Schobersberger et al., 2010).
  • An accumulation of lean body mass (Lee et al., 2004).
  • Reduced heart rate & blood pressure (Schobersberger et al., 2010).
  • Increases in the number of naturally generated stem cells in the blood of adults (Schobersberger et al., 2010).
  • Reductions in blood-bound “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoproteins) (Faber et al., 1992).
  • Improvements in the perceived health of participants (Strauss-Blanche et al., 2004).

No Shortage of Hiking, Snowshoeing Opportunities in Victoria County:


  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Where the mountains meet the seas…in the highlands of Cape Breton Island. Where you’ll find some of the highest snowfall accumulations in Eastern Canada. Where there is plenty of space to explore on or off the beaten track, away from it all! Fun for all age groups. Where our unique downhill (Ski Cape Smokey) and telemark ski areas offer you panoramic views of the magnificent Cape Breton Highlands and the Atlantic Ocean! “Surround yourself in the majestic of the Highlands by breaking your own trail” – you will not regret this healthy experience in our natural environment. CBHNP Trails:

  • 7th Annual Baddeck Middle River Old Time Commute 2018 – March 4, 2018

1:00 PM; FREE – Please bring your own shoes. 8.9 km Challenging hike. Take the Cabot Trail from the Red Barn entry to MacMillan Mountain Rd. on the right and park at the end of that road. Watch  for further information.

  • 3rd Annual Skyline Trail “Ultimate” Guided Snowshoe Hike 2018 – Cape Breton Highlands National Park; February 25, 2018 11:00 am; FREE. Please bring your own snowshoes. Easy Level Trail. The Skyline Trail is located 27 minutes north of Cheticamp on the Cabot Trail. Find directions here: Meet at the trailhead.


Equipment Available to Support your Hiking, Snowshoeing

& Skiing Needs:

Remember – BAM if you see wildlife in your active adventures:

B – back away A – act big M – move away:


13 items you should consider to have with you every time you hike the trail

Snowshoeing in Victoria County, Northern Cape Breton Another blizzard, another opportunity to dig out the snowshoes and enjoy being naturally active on our great natural environment on the trails. While you can bring whatever you like with you in your pack while out for a hike, there are about 13 items you should consider to have with you every time you hike the trail. Don’t forget to tell somebody where you are going & how long you will be out: 1.Knife 2.Water 3.Compass 4.Whistle 5.First Aid Kit 6.Map 7.Extra Clothes 8.Rain Gear 9.Flashlight 10.Extra Food 11.Walking stick 12.Nordic Poles 13.Horn (Blaster).


Winter is here! – Canada’s fabulous winter wonderland brings snow enthusiasts out in droves each year. Before you seek out your thrills, be sure that you are well prepared and that you have all the right gear to make every winter outing safe and enjoyable.


Exercise, Yoga Programs to keep You Physically Active:

  • North of Smokey Fitness Mondays & Wednesdays at 6 pm, St. John’s Church Hall, North Bay Ingonish

Leader: Patricia Fricker:

  • Adult Exercise Classes – Thursdays, 10 am; Big Bras d’Or Fire Hall

  • Kundalini Yoga – Kundalini yoga uses active movements, mantra, breath techniques and meditation to recharge, energize and transform. The benefits include improved strength and flexibility, a calmer more focused mind, enhanced creativity and feelings of happiness. Kundalini yoga stimulates the nervous system, glandular system and the immune system as it centers the mind and opens the spirit. Be prepared to experience transformation on many levels!. Kundalini yoga can be practiced by anyone, all levels, all ages. Classes include physical exercises, breathing techniques, mantra, relaxation and meditation. Experience your self deeply and notice a transformation towards physical strength, mental clarity and happiness. Kundalini is a powerful and effective form of yoga. Expect to feel great after your first class!


  • Yoga – Middle River

Winter Yoga –at the Middle River Hall). Everyone is welcome! Bring a mat and a smile! Certified Instructor: Jackie MacLellan –

  • Adult Full Fitness Classes “Keltic Dancercise” For information Phone Kay Batherson 794-3772 or e-mail  Includes weights, resistance bands, cardio, stepdance, Scottish country, linedancing, etc. Studio: 47 Peppett St. North Sydney


Social Interactions are Very beneficial to Your Health and the Following Offers Those Opportunities:

  • Friday Night Suppers/Ceilidhs – Iona Legion. Supper from 6 to 7 pm, Ceilidh from 7 to 10 pm
  • 45’s Card Games –  Mondays,  7 pm &  Big Bras d’Or Fire Hall.
  • Boularderie Weavers and Rug Hookers – Moved from their location on Loch Bhreagh Dr. to the Boularderie School. They meet on Mondays from 1:45 to 4:45 pm. They invite you to come and check out their new facility.  For further information, please call Joyce at 902.674.2323 or Ruth at 902.674.2208
  • Let’s Go For Coffee – at St. resumes on Jan 4, 2017.
  • Monday Afternoon Crafts (MACS) – A social group – Meets every Monday afternoon, 1-3 pm, Ross Ferry Fire Hall. Please bring your project: Knitting, crocheting, hooking, etc. Please join us!
  • Gaelic Tea & Social – You are invited to join them on the first Tuesday of the month for a Gaelic tea and Social. Drop in anytime between 2 and 4 for tea and Gaelic conversation. Only Gaelic will be spoken. All are welcome. Highland Village –
  • Family Square Dancing Ceilidh – Healthy Living & Exercise – The Iona Legion in Partnership with Naturally Active for Life Victoria County (Est. 2011), Victoria County & Cape Breton District Health Authority are promoting healthy living and exercise by hosting monthly Family Square Dancing Ceilidhs. Admission to the ceilidh: FREE. Individual sets for school age, adults, and seniors on the floor at the same time. Opportunity to teach youth traditional Scottish dancing, excellent form of exercise, and all while having fun for all ages. They are looking for leaders to help organize and assist with this venture, also supported by Naturally Active for Life Victoria County through their Leadership Development Assistance Fund. If you are interested, please let them know that you are willing to help them out. Are you interested in taking part in this fun form of exercise? It’s not mandatory, but to give them an idea of the interest, they are requesting that you pre-register by calling the Legion during bar hours at 902-725-2178 or by e-mail: . When registering please indicate if you wish to play a leadership role and if you may be interested in adult step dancing lessons. (Possible cost sharing for lessons may be required depending on the interest).
  • Baddeck Free Wheelers – “Have a senior’s moment”. Baddeck Legion Basement – Every Wednesday morning, 9:30 am; Guest Speakers & Refreshments

Community Wellness Rooms in Victoria County to Meet Your Fitness Needs:

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  • Look for the WELLNESS WALKERS starting soon at Rankin School of the Narrows, Iona – Walk & use of fitness equipment Tuesday evenings – Rankin School of the Narrows 7 – 8 pm

Bring a water bottle and wear shoes for indoor use. Use of the gym facility for walking is for age 7 and up – use of the fitness equipment is for age 14 and up and children must be accompanied by an adult or guardian. For further information please contact Ann Marie 725-2253, Murdell 725-2348 or Sharon 725-2177.

  • Ski Cape Smokey Community Wellness Gym – Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, 4:00 – 5:30 pm. Ski Cape Smokey Gym welcomes residents & visitors to the community owned gym! Watch the following for updates:
  • Sun Gym – Bay St Lawrence Community Centre. Membership fees: Students, seniors, inclusive: physically challenged Regular daily rates – For further information, please contact Margrit Gahlinger by e-mail:
  • Wagmatcook Fitness Centre at the Wagmatcook Cultural & Heritage Centre Open to all: Ages 5-19, Ages 20-29, Ages 30+ Open Mondays to Fridays; day and evenings and weekend days. No admission fee. No personal trainers
  • Community Wellness Room (6th Season 2017-18) at Baddeck Academy – Ages 16 & up, Mondays to Thursdays 6:00–8:00 pm. Free, Leader: Cecil Kerr e-mail:  / Tel. 902.295.4000 (Day) / 902.295.0817 (Night)


Walking is Your (Victoria County Residents) Favorite Leisure Activity (2015 Victoria County Community Physical Activity Survey & Ipsos Reid Survey 2010)

  • Borrow Your Step Pedometer Today Heart & Stroke Walkabout NS Kit – Thanks to a partnership between Heart&Stroke Walkabout™, Nova Scotia Public Libraries and C@P Sites, Victoria County Residents can borrow a pedometer kit at your library or C@P Site. Pick one up today on my way to wellness with 10,000 steps a day! 3 week loan, books 2 weeks!


Lots of Walking Opportunities Available in Victoria County:

  • “Heritage Way” Community Walking Path – Alderwood, Baddeck. Open to the community. It is maintained during the winter season and is well lit at night! It takes 10 minutes to do 1 lap of the Path and is 1/2 km long or 660 Steps! For further information, please contact Alderwood Rest Home Phone: 902.295.2644

  • The Old Horse Track in Baddeck


Is available to be physically active in our great natural environment if you are looking for a place to Snowshoe, Ski, Hike Walk, or Ski. 1/2 mile track. Hats Off to All Involved in making this area accessible to the public.

  • Look for our 4th Annual “Steps in Flight Walking” Program beginning in 2017 when conditions are not ideal to walk outside with the following. Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and it’s free! All ages, wheelchairs, strollers, male & female are welcome: Ages 16 & Under must be accompanied by an adult. There is also the Mini-Steps Discovery Centre Play Program coinciding with the Steps in Flight Walking Program in 2017. Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, Free at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. Bring along your children or grandchildren to walk and play (Books, toys, interactive displays, etc.) downstairs at AGBNHS
  • Wagmatcook Native Walkers Walking Schedule for the Winter: Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Wagmatcook Culture & Heritage Centre


Lots of Skating & Ice Opportunities Exist in Victoria County as well!

  • Victoria Highland Civic Centre (Baddeck Rink)



Contact: Andrew MacDonald, Campbell St, Baddeck, NS B0E1B0 / ph. 902.295.2292

-Adult Skates – Fridays, 9:30 – 11:00 am,  Victoria Highland Civic Centre, Baddeck. Only $5.00/Skater – A chance for physical activity, entertainment socializing with new and old friends

-Family Skates – Fridays 8:00 – 9:00 pm, Only $3/skater

Women’s Hockey in Baddeck – Sundays 5:45pm, Fee: Only $10.00 – All ages and skill levels welcome, For info contact: Elyane at

  • Neil’s Harbour New Haven Outdoor Fun Centre & Comfort Station


Helmets (Mandatory) and passes are required. Contact Francene or Dave Donovan at 902.336.2546 for passes. Facility benefits residents of all ages. They are a volunteer group working hard to keep the rink open. It includes an outdoor rink, during the winter season when conditions permit and a tiled rubber blue surface for multi-use during the spring, Summer & fall. The facility includes a Comfort Station with changing rooms, washrooms & laundry area. For further information, please contact Dave Donovan: Box 133, New Haven, N.S., B0C 1P0 / Phone: (902) 336-2546(h) / Fax: (902) 336-2206. Fees Collected Goes Toward The Following: Snow Blower & Scrappers for Snow Removal; Skate Aids; Hose for Flooding; Liability Insurance; Power for Warm-up Room; General Upkeep.

Annual Noah Budge Rubber Boot Hockey Tournament 2017 – (February) Neils Harbour New Haven Outdoor Fun Center. 6 Players per team (Each team must have at least 1 youth (14 or under) and 1 female). To register contact Dave Donovan at 902.336.2546. NO SKATES….all games are played on boots; NO GOALIE EQUIPMENT. For updates, please visit;

  • Smokey Recreation Society – Ingonish Outdoor Rink


Ingonish Outdoor Rink will be open soon as conditions permit. What a beautiful time to get out and enjoy winter! Hats Off to Ingonish Development Society, Smokey Recreation Society, Volunteers, Sponsors, Board Members – all involved benefiting residents & visitors. Located behind St Peter’s Parish Hall at the former elementary school- Fee per day& Season pass available, Family season pass also. Watch their facebook page for daily updates. Helmets are Mandatory. Dates of Operation Dec to March (Weather Depending). The Ingonish Outdoor Rink Webcam is up and running! A great tool to check ice conditions & rink activities. To view – visit  and click on “Rink Web Cam” follow to instructions below the link

Contact Information: Smokey Recreation Society – 37890 Cabot Trail, Ingonish Beach, NS, Canada B0C1L0, Phone: (902) 285-1016 ; Website:

  • Rankin School of the Narrows Outdoor Rink


Principal Theresa MacNeil:

When conditions permit – Enjoy skating on the outdoor rink at Rankin School, Iona. Public invited after school hours & weekends


Other Programs for you to lead Active Lives:

  • Look for Square Dancing Classes to start again in South Haven at the Community Hall. For experienced dancers & beginners. $5 per person. Contact Kathy Carmichael, 929-2512 or Jim, 902-294-0842.
  • Tai-Chi with Leader: Rosemary McLean.

Wednesdays, 9:30 – 10:30 am, Indian Brook Fire Hall, $5 drop in or $25.00 for all sessions November 2016 to March 2017. Questions or registration,

  • Learn to Meditate – every Saturday evening at 5:00 pm at the Baddeck Library. Scott Noble leads the group in learning how to meditate for stress reduction & better health.
  • Victoria County “GO” (Get Outside in Nature) After-school Time Period Programs – Winter/Spring 2017-18:

-GO (Girls Only) Program – North of Smokey FREE for girls grades 7, 8 and 9. A different activity every week, with a healthy snack.

-“E’pite’ji’jk Pasik”– Wagmatcookewey School. Free for Grades 7-12. For further information, please contact leader Jackie MacLellan

-#GO – Get Outside in Nature Program – Baddeck Academy, FREE at Baddeck Academy – Girls Grades 7, 8 & 9. Program Leader: Leader: Judy King

Cape Breton Family Place–Victoria County. Website: Victoria County: 902.336.2208; Events in Victoria County: . Within Victoria County, Family Place offers parents, caregivers, and children an opportunity to come together and share the joys and challenges of parenting. They offer these programs & services from two office locations – North of Smokey (New Haven Office) & South of Smokey (Baddeck Office). Services are offered to parents and caregivers with children birth to 6 years.


Or how about building your own outdoor rink!

  • How to Build Your Own Rink Make it & Skate it! It’s Easy! • Building outdoor rinks is growing fast. In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to forget to be active. Grab your family & friends, and build your own rink. Take the time to have fun–and be healthy while you’re at it. What you need • All you need are a few inexpensive tools and a sense of adventure!

Tools: • Level space (20×40 feet is a good size) • Lumber (2×6 or 2×8 pieces are great) • Screws • Shovels • Brushes • Hose • Tarp (must be 2 feet wider and two feet longer than your actual rink) • About 2 hours, plus freezing time before use Safety Tips • As with any and all outdoor activities in the winter, make sure you are dressed warmly and appropriately for the weather, with something to cover your head and ears, comfortable footwear, and layers of clothing. • Make sure your rink is completely frozen before skating on it. • Always skate with a friend. RinkRake is a one-stop resource for all things related to ice rink building! From info on how to build a backyard ice rink to products that help you build ice rinks quicker and easier, find it all at

Winter Reel                                  


Ski Cape Smokey

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton

Skyline on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton

Naturally Active for Life Victoria County (Est. 2011)

Box 370 – 495 Chebucto St, Baddeck, NS B0E 1B0

Tel: 902.295.3661 / Cel. 902.295.0387 / Fax: 902.295-1864