Learn the secret to exercise for mind, body, and spirit—find ways to combine your passions and interests with outdoor activities you enjoy.
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 more eloquent than how my dear friend and I described our morning walks. We referred to our routine of meeting after we dropped our kids off at school as our "Triple-A Program." (In this case, Triple-A stands for Ass and Attitude Adjustment!) And I can assure you our attitudes tanked faster than our posteriors if our schedules prevented us from walking for any length of time—suggesting 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 needs, as well as one you will stick with, is to find outdoor activities you enjoy. Studies indicate people who exercise outdoors are more likely to work harder, for longer periods of time, and are more likely to keep doing it. Outdoor exercise also offers the additional benefit of exposure to direct sunlight—which is known to affect mood.
I can vouch for these facts. The longest I’ve ever stuck with an indoor routine is a few months. But my friend and I walked almost every morning for over 13 years. And now my husband is my walking and hiking partner. We even purchased snowshoes a few years ago to extend our hiking season. Snowshoeing helps me beat the winter blues.
Additionally, exercising in a natural setting can feed your creative soul. Combining my love for landscape and nature photography with walking led to several bodies of work—I've explored the beautiful Catskill Mountain and Hudson Valley region in upstate New York with all different kinds of photography, including scannography, pinhole, mobile, and DSLR. I also compiled a lovely little photo book.
The Formula for Success
Find the exercise for mind body and spirit that works for you.
- Look for outdoor activities you can enjoy all year round. (In addition to walking and hiking, I enjoy snowshoeing in the winter and biking, swimming and kayaking in warmer weather.)
- Find people 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.)
- Combine exercise with other things you love. (What is your passion? My walks have informed my photography for years and vice versa.)
When Outside Isn't An Option
Sometimes the weather can be too hot, cold, or wet for days on end. Don't let a string of crappy days keep you from moving. Find something you like to do inside. I crank up some 90s dance tunes on Spotify and dance in my living room. It might not look pretty, but it feels good. And like daylight, music can also boost your mood.