Cooling Down Cabin Fever

It has been a long winter…at least it seems that way here. The snow is still on the ground. We’ve had cold, cold days and even colder nights. Getting outside has been a challenge. I’m itching to do something different…I have cabin fever!

This is a good time to break out a pair of wool socks, mittens and a hat and go for a walk!

If your routine this winter has been to exercise to a DVD or dance to your favorite tunes, then it is time to mix it up and get some fresh air! So, pack up your iPod or enjoy the sounds of nature and get outside and move.

Be sure to stretch your leg muscles before you go out, especially stretch your calves. An easy way to do that is to stand on a small step. Hold onto a wall or railing for balance. With the balls of your feet on the step, allow your heels to drop…feel the stretch.

If it has been a while since you walked much, don’t expect to do the same route at the same pace that you did last fall. Set a modest goal for this first walk…and start where your fitness level allows. For some of you that may mean walking to the mail box. The goal is to actually get outside and take some deep breaths. Get a change of scenery and stop wearing a path in the carpet.

While you are out walking notice the nature around you. Even if you are in an urban environment there is some nature. Look at the trees, see if the leaves are starting to bud out or if they are about to blossom. Are there flowers breaking through the ground or are they blooming already?

This first walk of spring is not just about moving as fast as you can. It is about appreciating life and the beauty that is around us.

Make it a goal to get outside to enjoy that beauty at least one time a week. Each walk you can go a little further and/or a little faster. You can buy a pedometer to track the distance you walk, or you can go for “relativity”…by that I mean, you know how far you went even if not in miles…so you can use that as a gauge and walk further next time. For example, if I walked around my block today then perhaps I want to walk around the block and go ¼ of the way around again and come back the next time. After that maybe I go around the block twice.

The other way to improve your fitness is to go the same distance but increase the pace. A good way to gauge your walking speed is to check how easy it is for you to talk. If you can easily chat away, holding a conversation then you are at a very low level of exercise and you should bump it up. If you can barely say a word, gasping between every breath, that’s a very high level of exercise. A good goal is to be in between these two levels. You should be able to talk in very short sentences.

Of course, if you have any health concerns, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. But no matter what your physical condition is, we can always find a way to move a bit more and get into better health. That doesn’t mean you will have as a goal to work out for hours every day…I don’t have time for that…it just means that our bodies are not meant to be parked on the sofa or in a chair all day long. We will function better and feel better if we move a bit every day.

By adding a walk into your exercise routine you get to move your body in a way that is inexpensive, it is something that just about anyone can do, you get to have some fresh air, and it breaks up the routine. By mixing up the routine you have less chance of injury, you increase your overall fitness, and because it is more interesting, you have a better chance of continuing to move!

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