pqtd 91 Green Exercise
This is another name for something that I’ve been recommending for a long time now- I called it Forest bathing; where a person would walk about in nature, in a forest as I do almost daily, or in any natural landscape, be it a beachfront, along the river, or just in a park. It turns out that the University of Essex, in England, has been extensively studying the benefits of exercise in Nature for over 12 years!
They have lots of studies that they have done on the benefits of exercising in nature as opposed to in a gym setting, and the benefits are manyfold. Primarily, mental benefits come from getting out in nature- just think about it, just as our paleolithic ancestors eating an ancestral, paleo type of diet, and we have evolved to do so as well- just as they slept long hours each and every night- so too did they spent ALL of their waking hours out in nature!
It is something we have hard-wired into us. We are creatures of nature,and are meant to be IN nature on a daily basis. The best way to experience nature is by exercising outside, not just sitting in a chair, say, on a beach or in a lawn.
I like to take a hike through my woods on pretty much a daily basis. Barefoot is best, or now, when it is getting colder here in Wisconsin, I wear my Xero sandals, which are just a slim piece of rubber between my bare feet and the ground... later, when it’s even colder, I will wear my moccasins, which are just leather between my feet and the ground, allowing my toes, and every tiny muscle in my foot to balance and strengthen as I go.
I think, beyond mental benefits such as alleviating stress and preventing depression and worry, such exercise has definite physical positives as well. The hyper-oxygenated air in a forest or any plant covered terrain is wonderfully beneficial, as is the very sounds of nature: the rustling branches, the calls of birds and small animals, and the feel and crunch of pine needles and dry leaves underfoot. Even the pollen from the trees is something that is good for us, since we have co-evolved with it since before time began!
In addition, by being outside, we use our eyes as our ancestors did, as they are meant to be used. We look off towards the horizon, actively as we move, not at a screen right in front of our face, and we are engaged in, and actually a PART of nature! This is something we need reinforced, in this day of artificial, sterile environments.
I sometimes, about once per week, sprint barefoot around my property, in short interval bursts. This is great, and something I look forward to, usually on Sundays.
But for a daily Green exercise regimen? Take a pair of small dumb bells, lately I’ve been using a pair of 7 pounders, one in each hand. Then PUMP them as you walk! This makes a leisurely walk, with plenty of time to observe nature as you go, into a demanding, total body workout.
Pump with high curls each step, or do side extensions for the deltoids as you go. Stop periodically, and do a set of pushups on the dumb bells- it keeps your hands clean, and you can go lower on each rep!
You can even stand perfectly still, and do curls, or presses for awhile, and then resume walking- a great variation is to mimic the moves of cross country skiing with the bells making the arms work as hard as the legs. Experiment!
Have fun with this! It is demanding enough that it could be a stand alone exercise and mental health regimen. Oh, it has a name, this dumb bell protocol- Heavyhands. It was very popular in the 1980’s, and somehow has fallen out of the mainstream. I guess it is just so cheap and easy, so doable by anyone, that no one figured out how to make money off of it! (No expensive equipment, no pricey shoes or gym memberships)...
Oh- it also doesn’t take long at all! 15 minutes is plenty; trust me, it’s very taxing, but since all the “work” is spread around all of your limbs (PanAerobics), it seems easier.
So go ahead. Go green! Even if you’re NOT a Packer’s fan!