Soak Up the Season: Outdoor Activity Challenge

Here in the northern hemisphere, the weather is cooling off as we move into fall. Well, it’s supposed to be anyway, but Colorado has still been unseasonably hot; I’m optimistic though! Heat and dysautonomia are a rough combination on me, so the slightly cooler weather of early fall allows me to do a lot more! This summer seems to have been hotter than usual for most people, and even my able-bodied friends that are extremely active in summer have been struggling.

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In the southern hemisphere, I know it’s starting to get a little warmer as you move into spring. The “transition seasons” have some gorgeous weather for getting outside and being active. Even though they can be a tad unpredictable, the nice days tend to be full of weather that’s neither too hot nor too cold. I always try to take full advantage of these short seasons!

kasper-rasmussen-657007-unsplashFor the next month, I’m challenging you to take advantage of the nicer weather: get outside and enjoy yourself! Ideally, you should get 30 minutes of exercise a day to stay healthy. Now, exercise looks totally different for everyone, and it can even be different day to day. Some days, I can do an hour long Pilates class; other days, walking downstairs to the couch is about all the “exercise” I can handle. I put exercise into quotes because most people don’t think of walking around the house as exercise, but it definitely can be! I do usually try to spend several minutes stretching, which is an important part of any exercise routine, even on my bad days.

Whatever your ability, try to get outside and do a little exercise (whatever you can handle). I’ll list some exercise ideas for different ability levels below. Shoot for being outside for 30 minutes at least three times per week. If you cannot get outside, open a window to get some fresh air. Spending time outdoors has a lot of proven health benefits, but opening a window for some fresh air also has health advantages!

Make sure you record your exercise in your Health Storylines app. Sign up for a totally free Health Storylines account: here. Then download the app and use the Exercise Diary tool (search the tool library) to track your exercise. There’s several exercises to select from, or you can type in your own; then select the date and length of time spent exercising.

Some Ideas for Exercise

Exercises for Limited Mobility or Low Energy:

  • Wrist/ankle rolls: extend your arm/leg as straight as possible (it engages more muscles that way), then rotate your wrists/ankles in one direction (clockwise/counterclockwise), try to do ten circles, switch directions and do as many as you were able to do for the first set, then relax your arms/legs.
  • cute-3281814_1920Gentle stretching: there’s a lot of gentle stretching guides online, find one and follow the stretches you’re capable of.
  • Breathing exercises: sit/stand/lie down with a straight back, close your eyes and turn your attention towards your breath, pick one of the two (or do both) exercises below, once complete slowly allow your breath to return to normal and open your eyes
    • place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest (just under the collar bones), inhale so that the hand on your belly rises while the one on your chest is still, once your belly is fully extended try to inhale deeper so that your chest also rises, exhale with your chest falling first then your stomach, repeat for five breaths
    • place your hands on the sides of your ribs (like the Superman pose, but up higher), inhale deeply focusing on pushing your hands apart (do not create resistance, the hands are just a tool for focusing), exhale completely, repeat for five breaths

Beginner Exercises:

  • jesse-callahan-410612-unsplashWalking: go for a gentle walk around the neighborhood (or even just the perimeter of your house, pick a length you can comfortably do), pick a pace you can maintain, focus on breathing and the world around you. As you do this more, try increasing either the length or speed of the walk.
  • Yoga or Pilates: look up some “beginner yoga” or “beginner mat Pilates” routines, pick one that you’re comfortable doing, go outside and enjoy (you can use a picnic blanket, a towel, or the bare ground – a yoga mat is not required).
  • Bicycling: if you have a bike, go for a gentle bike ride around your neighborhood. Right now, I’m only capable of riding for about 5 minutes, but I still find it enjoyable. If you don’t have a bike, see if you can borrow one from a friend that is your height (that way the bike will “fit” because riding a bike that is too small or too big is not fun).

Intermediate Exercises:

  • Jogging/Running: put on a pair of sturdy shoes that will stay on your feet, comfortable pants (not jeans), and go for a brisk walk/jog/run. You don’t have to be good at it, nor do you have to do it forever, everyone starts somewhere! (I’m totally incapable of running in any form, so more power to you if you can!)
  • frisbee-380332_1920Roller Blading: put on a pair of wheels (and safety gear!) and enjoy! I recommend a smooth surface, as a rough surface will cause vibrations that will quickly make your legs go numb! Sidewalks are good, so try going to a park and zipping around. I put this in intermediate because it is more work than walking.
  • Frisbee: grab a frisbee and head to an open spot with a friend and throw it around, you’ll get an arm workout and a cardio workout as you chase it down!

Hard Exercises:

I haven’t ever been at this level, so I can’t really help with specific suggestions that aren’t specialized activities (like, rock climbing which requires special skills and knowledge and equipment to do properly and safely). A good rule of thumb to make sure you’re exercising “hard” is that carrying on a conversation should be slightly difficult but not impossible. You should have to push yourself, but do not push so hard you’re straining to complete an activity. Straining your body is how you end up with injuries. Be sure to exercise safely and listen to your body!

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Post your outdoor exercises on social media (bonus points for pretty foliage for your season) so we can all cheer each other on! Be sure to use the hashtag #FLSSselfcare so we can find each other!

If you have other suggestions for exercises for any of the ability levels, leave them in the comments below for others to try out.

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