Monday, February 14, 2011

Green Exercise and Ecotherapy

Yet more on the benefits of exercising "outdoors" or what is also called "green" health.

Just five minutes outside exercising can improve your mood! :o)

More on the benefits of green/outdoor exercise:

I usually reference the added "mood" enhancements when discussing outdoor exercise, but another very important point that I will talking more and more about this year is the benefit of outdoor exercise in "natural" environments on your nervous system.  More specifically, your proprioception  and ability to balance so you don't trip and fall.

If you always walk on a perfectly "safe" and level surface such as an office building, parking lots, treadmills, sidewalks, etc., then you won't walk nearly as well on uneven surfaces.  Want to walk better on ALL surfaces?  Get off the artificial surfaces and onto the trail or some other outdoor area.  Grass, dirt, trails, sand, etc. all have extra BENEFITS to increasing your efficiency to stay upright so you don't fall.  Also, our eyes are suffering from all the staring at one focal length and one focal width 9-12+ hours per day.  Our ears (vestibular system) are also decreasing in efficiency with all the sitting!  All of this sitting or walking on "safe" surfaces is decreasing our ability to safely move in natural environments as joints, vision, and vestibular decrease in function.

Bottom Line: Move more and go outside when you do!  When I have the choice between running or walking on pavement/concrete vs. the dirt off the side of the trail, I opt for the dirt because it is UNEVEN and thus better for my proprioceptive system.  Balance training is fall PREVENTION!

All of the above is even more reason to hike in the wilderness!  Think of hiking as both Ecotherapy and proprioception enhancement...for better and safer movement and feeling good while you do them.

In Motion,
Coach RJ

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