Spring has arrived! Now it's time to get your feet (and/or butt) in gear. If you've, like many of us, spent the last few months nearly hibernating, you should start to think about what you enjoy doing to get active, get healthy, and get mindful.
Image taken in Glen Allen, VA
Even though it's hard, you may initially have to force yourself to make the time for exercise or daily activity. But do not dismay! You're worth it! Don't be intimidated thinking it will be too overwhelming; it doesn't take much time each day to see a difference--something is better than nothing. Habits take a different amount of time to form for each of us (check out this article for more info on that), so be patient with your progress and don't be hard on yourself when you miss (or just skip) a day or several. Each day is a new opportunity to start fresh.
Like we discussed in Olympic Mindfulness & Motorcycle Riding, nearly all physical activities are ideal for mindful reflection and engaged mindfulness. Getting a motorcycle may not top your list of to-dos, but when you are engaged in something that requires your full attention (with the added bonus of using your body), you're making mindfulness happen in your life.
The easiest and cheapest way to get moving and get mindful is to go take a walk. The most mindful of these is to simply walk--alone, taking note of how the wind feels, the sounds, the smells, the sights, how your feet feel stepping on the pavement... but if that sounds undesirable to you at this point, getting into the habit of simply walking each day may be more important. If so, here are some other suggestions: you can meet up and catch up with an old friend, bring the stroller or wagon, walk the dog(s), trade a walk for dessert and go directly after dinner, make it a family event, or even make a series of phone calls.
Ride a bike. If you don't have a bike, consider getting one; they aren't just for kids. If you're fortunate enough to have sidewalks in and around your neighborhood, that can help you feel more comfortable to easily bike around your home. Otherwise, begin slowly and ride in low traffic areas. Sometimes, with our extra cautious reflective safety vests (seriously--we've got those--they're from the dollar store), we take nighttime rides. No one else is out and the road is ours. It's marvelous! Because it is easier than running and quicker than walking, biking can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Instead of driving, consider riding your bike to complete a close errand. Not only will you get exercise, save gas (and reduce emissions), but you'll feel great about your accomplishment. Just remember to wear proper safety gear, check your bike for working brakes and proper tire inflation, and comply with all local laws (in Virginia, bikers must have an operational front and back lights for bikes).
Garden to your thumb's delight. Although gardening isn't necessarily an aerobics class, it meets all of the Get Up, Get Moving, & Get Mindful requirements. Gardening is an excellent way to get connect with the present moment and lose yourself in your task. It produces tangible results, which assist in encouraging you and uplifting your spirits. It gets you outside, breathing in fresh air and feeling the sunshine. And it burns approximately 200-400 calories per hour.
Take a hike. One of the most commonly mentioned physical activities where people first recognized their capacity for mindfulness is hiking. You almost can't help but be mindful while you hike. You must be present and aware of where you're going at all times. As with all physically demanding activities, be sure to take it slow and start where you are. Check out your local state or city park for trails near you. As you become more involved in hiking, you may consider making a day or week trip to challenge yourself with new and different hikes. Websites like EveryTrail, AllTrails, and HikingUpward are a great place to start exploring.
Find an activity you can do with your family and friends. If you can connect with people you care about AND get a little exercise, life is fantastic. For me, yoga "classes" with my girlfriends bring us together to catch up, laugh, and get moving. Signing up for a dance class is another great way to have fun and get active. My neighbors attend line dancing classes every other week and they have a blast! Or you may want to play a pickup football, kickball, or softball game. Playing with your children or grandchildren at the playground or even getting silly on the sidewalk (hopscotch, anyone?) is another way to be present, have fun, and be active.
Image taken in Richmond, VA
...Or make some new friends. Websites like MeetUp help connect people of similar hobbies and pursuits. Check and see if your area has any activities you'd like. I've seen groups ranging in interest from dance to biking to rugby to paddling to coed baseball. There is something for everyone--and if there isn't you can even start a group for others to join!
Start small, have fun, and remember to wear sunscreen!
Labels: Body & Mind, Go Ahead--Try It!, May Wellness Challenge