Increased Outdoor Activities in Spring
Spring is the time of year that most of us get more active outdoors! I love early spring knowing that I have 3 seasons ahead of me that will invite me to be outside more (I do get outdoors in winter but definitely not as much as I do when the weather warms up!).
I like to ramp up my natural movement activities this time of year. These are movements that we were born to do such as hiking. They are really beneficial for many reasons:
- They help counteract the negative affects of modern living such as sitting in chairs
- They feel great since these movements are natural and functional
- They promote higher quality movements and posture and can help reduce pain
Biking: Benefits and Drawbacks
Seated sports such as biking does offer the benefits of cardiovascular excise and improving muscular endurance. However this adds more sitting to your day and does not put you in an ideal position to improve your posture or breath pattern. I feel that biking contributes to poor postural and breathing habits due to the typical flexed spine, flexed hips posture.
Yard Work: Natural but Challenging
Gardening and yard work involve functional movements, but it takes some practice to learn how to move properly to avoid back pain. If these activities increase pain you would probably benefit from getting your core and hip muscles balanced out so you have less strain on your spine. Another issue with these movements is that we often do a burst of this activity when we are not conditioned to it. It’s like writing a check for more than you have in your account. Your body is not prepared for a bunch of weeding, mulching, digging and hauling heavy bags after a winter of sitting on the couch or doing low key exercises. It is a good idea to pace yourself and also to prepare your body by practicing functional strength exercises!
If I am going to spend time moving, I prefer MOST of it to be natural movement to reap more rewards from the time and effort I put in!
Bonus: Grounding & Sunshine
Getting outside more also benefits us because we get in more grounding when our feet and hands come into contact with the earth. And more time in the sun. Grounding and sunshine offer many health benefits so get those toes in the grass and hands in the dirt!
Balance Your Activities
If biking (or another sport that involves sitting) is your favorite way to exercise, I recommend that you balance it out with lots of walking, hiking , running or in line skating. All of these involve natural movements that will help to counteract the extra time spent sitting.
Hiking in minimalist footwear on natural surfaces is one the most beneficial ways to move. This involves moving your feet at various angles compared to walking on flat hard pavement. Minimalist shoes, if tolerated, offer you the ability to get more benefit from the natural trails compared to stiff supportive shoes which block you from feeling the ground beneath you well.
If you don’t tolerate minimalist shoes I recommend improving your foot function to help you transition to them. It will be worth the effort to help your body move better from the ground up!
For those of you looking for some motivation to find more places to hike, I recommend joining a local Facebook page for hiking. You will get ideas and see photos from a variety of hiking trails. In WNY we have a group called “Hike WNY”. For Buffalonians we also have the WNY Hiking Challenge. It offers choices form 4 categories and you are challenged to complete 20 of the hikes by mid November. You can also sign up fo the Ultra Challenge which involves 5 hikes that are about 16-21 miles long!!
No matter what you decide to do with your time and energy…..have a H A P P Y S P R I N G!!!!!!