Gail Weldon and partners created Women’s Training Room and Conditioning Center (TRACC) over 25 years ago. I loved the energy and the space, and was especially grateful that I could sneak in a workout at some point during my work day
The facility offered a unique environment with educated personnel from the certified athletic trainers on the floor, to the exercise physiologist, kinesiologist, and physical therapists on staff. However, I still struggled to consistently stay active.
That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the convenience and flexibility of indoor equipment. However, once TRACC closed, I stopped working out in a gym. I haven’t seriously entertained the idea of a gym membership ever since then.
ENJOYING ACTIVITY OUTDOORS
A recent oped in the LA Times reminds me why I no longer struggle to stay active. Most of my physical activity happens close to nature with the delicious opportunity to feed my soul as I move my body.
In a July 14, 2016 Times article Alexandra Sifferlin explores the healing power of nature more extensively. She identifies a wide range of benefits linked with improve health and greater protection from disease:
- A Japanese study showed people who spent 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest had lower levels of cortisol compared to 40 minutes walking in a lab
- A 2016 study showed 1o% of hypertensive patients could get blood pressure under control with as little as 30 minutes a day spent in a park.
- Walking through a forest is associated with increase in cells known to reduce inflammation and support our immune function
- One University of Michigan study found short term memory improved by 20% after a nature walk compared to walking in the city
- A University of Illinois study showed that children with ADHD were able to concentrate better after a 20 minute walk in the park versus their neighborhood or urban area.
- Researchers agree that time in nature tends to lift spirits, with urban dwellers far more likely to experience anxiety and mood disorders than those who live in rural areas
- A 2015 study showed that people who spent 15 minute looking up at trees felt more awe than those looking up at buildings. Tree gazers were more likely to behave in more generous and helping ways.
- A study of 44 cities found that residents enjoyed higher scores of community well being when they lived with more urban parks
- Even when nature isn’t close at hand, listening to nature sounds helps people recover faster from stress. No wonder spas pipe in sounds of the ocean or other natural environs to enhance our healing.
STEPPING AWAY FROM THE GYM
On a recent vacation in Oregon, we spent the week hiking, biking and swimming through the state right along with the natives. The entire state seems to be populated with SUV’s outfitted with bike racks, along with a canoe or kayak on board.
Despite my intense gratitude for our National Parks System, I returned home more conscious than ever that especially in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles our communities need to create access for everyone to play outside.
Too many people struggle to exercise indoors or in less than safe neighborhoods. Obscene numbers engage in a endless love/hate relationship with the gym. Would they struggle as much if they enjoyed ready access to safe and enjoyable physical activity outdoors?