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Spring Reset your physical health

Spring is a time of getting back outdoors on a more regular basis to ground yourself and reconnect with nature. It's a time when we feel ready to move, be more physically active and enjoy time in nature. Studies have shown that time spent in nature, where people feel safe, is an effective way to manage stress, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, enhance immune system function, improve mood, etc. How's that for extra health perks, just for being more physically active?

One of the reasons that being in nature is so healing has to do with the earth (yes the actual dirt and microorganisms). This study looked at the relationships between the soil microbiome and the human intestinal microbiome, pointing out that through close contact, we replenish each other. Isn't that fascinating? In fact, soil and our digestive track contain about the same number of active microorganisms, and yet our gut microbiota diversity is only about 10% of the soil's biodiversity. It might be time for us to look to nature for boosting our gut microbiome, nature is our greatest teacher. Over the years, human microbiota diversity has greatly decreased with our transformation from hunter-gatherer to an urbanized society, we're eating less seasonally, and more of the processed foods. So it's essential for us to do our best to get back to nature to help support our biodiversity, especially after along winter indoors.

Different types of physical activity influence our hormonal balance. For example, a study showed that during resistance exercise, testosterone production can be triggered in healthy women. Another study showed that high-intensity workouts with heavy weights can stimulate the production of human growth hormone, which is required to repair muscles. And low intensity exercise can decrease our stress hormone cortisol, while high intensity exercise tends to increase cortisol. Isn't it amazing how the body always works to attain harmony? Understanding how your hormones impact physical activity is empowering information, and can help you customize your workouts throughout the month based on hormonal fluctuations, for optimal physical performance and results.

With all this information in mind, and because spring is the time of walking up, I recommend starting with more restorative physical activity such as yoga, stretching, and walks in nature. If feasible for you, exercise in the morning to gain even more benefits with early rise of the sun, to help your body wake up with a healthy dose of morning cortisol, which in turn will produce melatonin later in the day, for deep quality sleep at night. See, when we listen and work with our bodies, the body will always seek harmony, it knows how to balance hormones naturally.

Physical Activities for Spring Rest

  1. Sunrise Hike - set your alarm because awakening with the changing time of sunrise may not initially feel intuitive, but it will help you get off on the right foot for a spring reset. Turn your hike into a meditation by focusing on the sights, scents and sounds around you (leave your headphones at home). Tune into your surroundings, be present and one with nature. If thoughts of to-do-list come up, acknowledge them briefly and then return your focus on the rising sun while you take each step. If you only have time for a 5 min walk outside, take it! If you have time for an hour or two, that's great too. They key is deciding and then showing up up for your sunrise hike.

  2. Enjoy chest opening yoga poses - opening up your body and mind to allow for more fresh and clean energy in your life is a great focus for spring. Practice yoga poses that open tight areas such as the chest and help wake up your body from the colder and more sedentary months behind you. As you sit at your desk, start by opening your arms wide and then reach them above your head; feel your lungs expand and chest open up, take a few deep breaths. Backbends also help bring more energy into chest, and standing poses with help activate and ground you. Move with what feels the most rejuvenating for your body, trust your intuition to guide you.

  3. Take an afternoon brisk walk, hike or run in your nearby park or forest - instead of taking a nap, beat afternoon fatigue by putting on your shoes and getting outdoors. You'll likely be revitalized by the crisp cool spring air, recent rain, or breeze on your skin. If you still need that ten-minute nap in the day, you can take it, but physically moving your body first may help you determine whether you're truly sleep deprived or just in need of some fresh scenery and air. Sitting at your desk from morning through later afternoon, is bound to leave you feeling sluggish and reaching for that mid-afternoon snack, when your body is craving physical activity the most. Remember, even 5 min outdoors is a great place to start.

  4. Workout in the morning - Spring is about waking up, resetting your circadian rhythm, moving froward. Plan ahead with an earlier bed time so you're not starting off your day with sleep depravation, which only further stresses your adrenals. If you're not typically a morning person, start slow. Try a 5 min stretching movement upon waking, increase by 5 min each day, slowly add a push up, or a plank and then some free weights. Before you know it, you'll be feeling energized and motivated to continue this morning routine.

  5. Stretch and Reflect - As women, we often try to do it all and push ourselves to the point of exhaustion. But resist the urge to keep going and running on empty batteries. Listen to your body. When you need to rest, rest. You're allowed to rest, just like everyone else. When you have the energy to push yourself, push yourself. But if you burn yourself out mentally and physically, you'll only set yourself back, lose motivation and potentially injure yourself. Pay attention to your body and cues, if your body is tense and you're ruminating rather than relaxing, it's time to stretch and reflect. Where in your body do you feel tension? Do you have pain, aches, spasms, or other physical discomforts? This takes just a minute, but a simple check-in can help you determine which muscle groups to focus on and what nourishment your body needs the most. Honor that, and rust your intuition, the body always seeks to heal.

  6. Jump into a more intense workout - After you've rested sufficiently, step up the intensity and duration of your power walks, go from a brisk walk into a jog, or take your flat hike to one with more hilly terrain. Increase the duration by bumping it up by 5min each day or week. Pay attention to how your body responds and remember not to over do it. If you're already an athlete, consider taking a day off the intense workout, mix it up and spring forward into something different. Don't forget to stay hydrated.

  7. Try something new and different - Now that the weather is warming up, seize the opportunity to mix up your environment or try new physical activity. Check out a workout in the park or a new class at your local gym. Try swimming, or biking as the weather gets warmer outside. Spring is all about newness, trying something different, feeling alive.

Learn which fitness style best suits you and from there cater physical activities so that they're enjoyable and stimulating for you.

If you find yourself at your desk for hours upon hours, feeling sluggish and tired, ask yourself do I crave a snack or movement? If you crave sweets and caffeine as your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack or all the time, your body may just be craving physical activity. As a certified Health and Nutrition coach, I help women optimize their physical activity, by discovering what they truly enjoy and will stick to long-term, for optimal results. Physical activity, when done right and in alignment with women's hormonal fluctuations, leads to measurable and sustainable results that look like weight loss, toned body, increased muscle, increased energy, improved digestion, better sleep, etc. I can help you discover what your fitness style is and how to integrate more physical activity that's fun, enjoyable and one that you'll stick with long-term. To explore further for the future healthier and more physically active you book an intro session.


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