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The Secret to Summertime Health and Happiness

In a world that is more and more tied to a desk, a computer screen, and a chair, having blue spaces and green spaces within our cities that can bring us back to nature, and can positively impact our health is so crucial. We keep hearing more and more about the dangers of sitting all day for our mental health. We sit in a car and commute to work. We sit at a desk for eight hours. Sit in our car back to our home, and then sit and watch Netflix all night. It’s not good for our physical and mental health. Luckily, in London Ontario, we have so many amazing choices for ways to get off of our seats, enjoy the outdoors, and get healthy! One of those choices is Fanshawe Lake.

Fanshawe Lake has stunning views, encourages multiple types of physical activity, and promotes mental health. It’s a man-made lake that for decades has been giving Londoners a wonderful spot to “get away from it all” without having to leave the city. It’s a lake that offers so many wonderful options for things to do and see. It’s a place that can draw people out of their homes, away from their TVs to spend an afternoon making memories that you cannot make in front of a screen. It’s located in the Fanshawe Ridge area of our great city.

If you have not been out to see it yet, then what are you waiting for? It’s a beautiful lake that was created for this wonderful city that we live in. It not only protects our city, but it offers so many mental and physical health benefits. It offers Londoners things to do, while giving spectacular views. So go and check it out. It’s worth it, trust me.

History

One of the major aspects to London Ontario, and a thing that has made this city so wonderful to live in, is the Thames River. It flows like life-giving veins throughout the entire city and gives London amazing views, fills our city with incredible and unique wildlife, and gives us so many leisure pastime activities that are good for our health.

While the Thames River has brought health, prosperity, and relaxation to London, it has had a rocky past. There have been two times in history, in 1883 and 1937, when the Thames River had catastrophic flooding that was devastating to the city.

Naturally, a solution was sought after that would help to avoid this in the future. What could they do to stop flooding with heavy rains, and add to the London Ontario community? That is when the idea came along to control the water levels through a dam.

The construction of the Fanshawe Dam started in 1950 and took two years to finish. The dam cost $5 million and within the dam, the University of Western Ontario’s geology department placed a seismograph, which is an instrument used to measure motions in the ground.

The dam is 652 meters long, 30.5 meters high, and is located in northeast London. The hydroelectric generator from Fanshawe Dam can power 400 households with the energy it creates. The reservoir from the dam is now known as Fanshawe Lake. This man-made lake has the North Thames of the Thames River running through it.

London capitalized on the beauty, the healthy living, and the wonder that is Fanshawe Lake by creating Fanshawe Conservation area, which is approximately 3000 acres. The Fanshawe Conservation Area has been an immense benefit to Londoners by providing such a natural escape from the city back to nature within the city.

Within the Fanshawe Conservation Area, there used to be a beach on Fanshawe Lake that allowed swimming. The swimming aspect of the lake has been closed since 2009 because green/blue algae was found within the waters, which is not good for swimmers.

Things to Do

Boating

Fanshawe Lake allows power-driven boats on their lakes. The exception to this rule is that they do not allow battery powered electric propulsion motors or watercraft with 10 hp or less. This is great news for anyone who wants to spend a day in the sunshine on a beautiful lake with the blue skies above them, the sun shining down on them, and a leisurely boat ride to soothe their soul.

It’s also great news for people who enjoy fishing off of a boat. Fanshawe Lake is great for fishing, as mentioned below, and any good fisherman knows that there are only so many fish you can catch standing on shore banks. You have to get on the water to get the best fishing experience.

Fanshawe Lake is also home to the Fanshawe Yacht Club and Sailing School. The Fanshawe Yacht Club and Sailing School offers courses for adults and students to learn how to sail. There is no better place to learn such an awesome skill than on the beautiful and peaceful Fanshawe Lake.

The Fanshawe Yacht Club and Sailing School offer casual racing experiences for those who do know how to sail to participate in. You can either bring your own boat or lease one of the many that they own there. They also host formal sailing races and competitions.

Fishing

Fishing is plentiful and fun on Fanshawe Lake. Of course, anyone doing fishing needs to have a valid fishing license on them and should respect fishing seasons and restrictions. You can do boat fishing as well as shore fishing from Fanshawe. The lake is home to many different kinds of fish, including perch, bass, pike, and walleye. For those who are wondering about eating the fish that they catch, the Government of Ontario has a great guide to help you decide what fish from our waters are good to eat and what ones to avoid. This guide can be found here.

Personally, what I love most about fishing is the ability to spend time in beautiful spots, taking in the gorgeous scenery around you, relaxing, and then experiencing the adrenaline rush and thrill of landing a fish. Fanshawe lake is a perfect place for fishing because the atmosphere there is serene and calming and the views are absolutely spectacular. You can enjoy your day while waiting to get that really big catch.

Canoeing/Kayaking

The Fanshawe Lake is also a perfect spot for canoeing and kayaking. Canoeing and Kayaking are both really great low-impact activities that are great for your health. They can improve your flexibility, your strength, as well as your aerobic fitness. The rowing is going to strengthen muscles in your arms, back, shoulder and chest. The balancing and moving around and twisting is going to strengthen your core and your legs. Canoeing and Kayaking is also great for your cardiovascular health since it gets your heart rate up and gets your blood pumping. All of this you get while having minimal wear and tear on your joints!

Of course the other benefits to this kind of activity is the peaceful enjoyment that you get from being on the water. When it’s quiet out and all you can hear is your paddle dipping into the cool waters and the gentle sound of your boat being pushing forward through the lake, you find yourself in a tranquil state of rejuvenation. Your mind is at rest and you cake breathe in the beauty of views around you.

Canoeing and Kayaking is also great because you can take it at your own pace. Do you want to have a leisurely ride that is peaceful and restorative? Or do you want to push yourself and your muscles as you fly across the water, feeling the wind in your face? It’s totally up to you and both are just as enjoyable.

Rowing

The London Rowing Club uses Fanshawe Lake during the on-water season. The London Rowing Society also hosts provincial rowing championships on Fanshawe Lake. Rowing is an amazing feat of strength and endurance. It’s amazing exercise. Watching a rowing competition is thrilling as you watch the muscles ripple and the brows become furrowed in concentration. The boats make these amazing lines across the glass-like water. And at Fanshawe Lake the beautiful trees, shores, sun and blue skies all send you in a dizzy of delight.

Hiking

Fanshawe Conservation Area has beautiful paths that wrap around Fanshawe lake, giving you beautiful views that can take your breath away. You’ll get to see all kinds of birds and wildlife throughout your hike. The trail around the lake goes through different terrain as well so you’ll get to walk through meadows and mature forests, and canopied areas and wide-open views of the lake.

Hiking is great for the body and the mind. There have been studies that show that if you disconnect from tech while you’re hiking, you can boost creative problem-solving, which means that you can do your best thinking while on a hike. Studies have also shown that hiking can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in kids, so be sure to take your family with you! Lastly, studies have shown that hiking can reduce obsessive and negative thoughts associated with many mental health issues.

For your health, hiking can strengthen your core and balance. It lowers your risk for heart disease and improves blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also boosts bone density and strengthens your glutes, legs, and hips! What better way to get all of these benefits than to hike around the beautiful and serene Fanshawe Lake?

Biking

Fanshawe Conservation Area has an amazing 22–25 km bike path that wraps around Fanshawe Lake so that you get beautiful views of the lake that you can enjoy while mountain biking. There are optional parts of the path for more experienced mountain bikers. You can do the loop at a pretty leisurely pace in about 2 hours, but the faster you go the more of a challenge it is and more experienced bikers can get it done in around one hour.

There are multiple terrains to keep it fun and interesting as you ride along. I’ve done this trail once before and must say that it was an incredible work out. You engage your whole core as you navigate and balance over roots and rocks and you don’t even notice how hard you’re working because the view of Fanshawe Lake is so distractingly beautiful.

Camping

Of course who doesn’t love camping near a lake? There is something that helps you sleep on the forest floor when nighttime falls and the only sounds that you can hear are the soothing sounds of water. Spend your day hiking, fishing and canoeing on this stunning lake and then spend your evening enjoying the benefits of a really good camping experience.

Benefits of Fanshawe Lake

We’ve been hearing more and more lately about bringing green space into urban environments because more and more studies are showing the profound impacts that your working and living environments have on your physical and mental health. Luckily, in London Ontario, we happen to live in a city that has everything we want and need from a city, as well as having a plethora of stunning parks and forested areas all around us.

But did you know that “blue space”, or visible water spaces such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, is also amazing for your physical and mental wellbeing as well? The author of Blue Mind mentions that being near water allows us to enter into mindfulness very quickly.

A study recently showed that in a capital city, those who had access to blue space had lower psychological distress than those who did not. I think that most of us can agree that being near water has a calming and rejuvenating effect on us. It helps to clear our minds, get away from our daily stresses and relax, which is why Fanshawe Lake is such a great place to visit. It’s serene. It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. It gives your mind a chance to re-energize.

Having a lake like Fanshawe Lake is also great for our city because of the physical activity it encourages: rowing, sailing, canoeing, fishing, hiking and biking are all amazing for your physical health and are made that much more appealing when they’re all set on or around the beautiful views of Fanshawe Lake.