What you eat has a tremendous impact on your health, but how much you move is also important. Exercise for mind, body and spirit sounds much more eloquent compared to the phrase my dear friend and I use to describe our morning walks. We refer to our routine of meeting after we drop our children off at school as our Triple A Program. (In this case, Triple A stands for Ass and Attitude Adjustment!) And I can assure you that our attitudes tank faster than our posteriors if our schedules prevent us from walking for any length of time – suggesting that regular physical activity may be even more important for mental health.
Benefits of regular physical activity
According to the Mayo Clinic, a regular exercise routine offers the following returns on investment:
- Helps to control your weight
- Combats health conditions and disease
- Improves your mood
- Boosts your energy
- Helps you sleep better
- Can improve your sex life
How to exercise for mind body and spirit
The key to developing an exercise routine that meets all of your physical and emotional needs, as well as one you are likely to stick with, is to find outdoor activities you enjoy. Studies indicate that folks who exercise outdoors are more likely to work harder, for longer periods of time, and are more likely to stick with it. Outdoor exercise also offers the additional benefit of exposure to direct sunlight – which is known to affect mood.
I can attest to this phenomenon. My friend and I have been meeting to walk for nearly 10 years – the longest I’ve ever stuck with any kind of indoor regime was a few months. My husband doesn’t have a flexible work schedule like I do, but he usually squeezes in a quick walk outside during his lunch break and we often go for hikes on weekends. We purchased snowshoes a couple years ago to extend our hiking season and in spite of a longer, harsher than average winter, for the first time in many years I didn’t experience the winter blues.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, exercising in a natural setting can also feed your creative soul. Combining my love for landscape and nature photography with my walking routine has lead to several bodies of work – including my current CatskillMeanderings series. If you would like to enjoy my walks in the beautiful Catskills and Hudson Valley region in upstate New York vicariously, select images are available for purchase on Standing Impressions. I’ve also compiled a lovely little photo book.
The Formula for Success
Just be sure to find the exercise for mind body and spirit that works for you.
- Find outdoor activities you can enjoy all year round. (In addition to walking/hiking, I enjoy snowshoeing in the winter and biking, swimming and kayaking in warmer weather.)
- Find folks to share the fun. (While walking on my own can be pleasant, sharing the time with family and friends offers additional social benefits.)
- Establish a realistic routine. (I’m less likely to exercise if I don’t get out first thing in the morning. Likewise, my husband is less inclined to hop on the treadmill after a long commute home – so his quick lunchtime jaunts are important.)
- Combine exercise with other things you love. (What is your passion? My walks have informed my photography for years and vice versa.)