The Importance of Getting Outdoors for Personal and Family Life with Scott Moses

Introduction

We wake up early in the morning to the sound of an alarm on our Smartphone. Immediately, we turn off the alarm, slide open our phone and begin to scroll through our friends Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and check to see if we received any late night emails. Once we eventually do get out of bed, we might turn on the TV to listen to the news while we drink a quick cup of coffee.

Once at the office, we spend the majority of our time stuck in front of a small computer screen diligently doing whatever work we might do. During our lunch break, we mindlessly eat a sandwich while watching YouTube videos and chatting with friends via WhatsApp. After a long day at work, we head home where once again the TV turns on until we eventually fall asleep and start again anew the next day.

Our urban lives are almost completely subjected to a variety of tasks and pleasures that are dependent on technology. Apart from a weekend camping trip once a year, the majority of people in our industrial, consumer-driven society have almost no contact with the natural world.

In this short article, we will briefly look at the consequences of our dependence on technology, the benefits that come with reconnecting with the natural world, and offer a few tips on how we can once again find happiness and fulfillment through getting outdoors and enjoying the world around us.

The Consequences of Our Enslavement to Screens

If someone were to ask you the name of a certain type of bird that you saw sitting in a bush in front of your home, chances are that you would pick up your phone and ask Google to give you the answer. Over half of the human population now lives in cities and urban areas, and we derive our livelihoods from occupations and professions that have little direct contact with the world around us.

Because of this reality, the accumulated ecological knowledge and practical skills of livelihoods that were once tied to the land have all been but lost. A typical fourth grader can tell you the names of hundreds of fast food restaurants, cartoon characters, and sports figures, but most likely doesn´t know the names of the birds that sing in the trees, the trees that hold the birds, and the fruits that each tree offers for our sustenance.

Our increasingly technological lives that have separated us from the natural world have led us away from one of the deepest and most meaningful connections that we humans hold: to the earth that sustains us. The lack of direct contact with the world around us has led, in part, to some of the greatest crises we collectively face, from global warming to the loss of topsoil to the poisoning of our oceans.

On a more intimate level, the lack of interaction with the natural world coupled with our technology-driven lives has also furthered a sense of loneliness and depression that defines the lives of many people. Screen-filled lives foster a deep-seated sense of individualism which borders on isolation and lonesomeness and is also a cause of some of the most serious health issues that we now face including obesity, heart disease and the like.

Benefits of Reconnecting with Natural World

Reconnecting with Nature through getting outside and spending time in unstructured environments is one of the most therapeutic things we can do in today´s world for several reasons. Firstly, and perhaps most pragmatically, getting outside requires exercise and physical exertion. Whether we´re simply walking through the woods, or climbing trees, or paddling down a river, the physical exercise that comes with being outside in the natural world is something that is sorely needed in a society where children and adults routinely spend the majority of each day sitting in front of screens.

Secondly, reconnecting with the natural world opens the possibility of relating directly with other people. With the rise of social media, so many of us have lost any sort of meaningful and face-to- face contact with people around us. We live in virtual worlds where the relationships we foster are defined through “likes”, “tweets” and “shares.” Getting outdoors and spending time in the natural world forces us to communicate directly with the people we are with. Many parents have found that the best way to have deep and consequential conversations with their children is through going for a hike together and leaving the screens behind.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, spending time outside in the natural world allows us to find a deeper sense of belonging. Our modern, technological civilization forces us into shallow relationships with other people and with the places where we live. We are continually pressed to embrace mobility and self-interest in order to “get ahead” in life, and because of that most of us don´t have any sense of deep-seated belonging to something greater than ourselves.

Spending time in the natural world forces us to see beyond the hectic rat-race of upward mobility that defines our lives. Contemplating the peacefulness of a forest during a light rainstorm or the glittering fire flies illuminating the evening compels us to question how we fit into this great community of life and ultimately brings a greater sense of meaning to our lives.

Strategies to Get Outside

One of the most unfortunate aspects of our technology driven society is that it demands our full allegiance and time. To be connected to the technological society means that our lives are most likely full of deadlines, cutoff dates and other supposedly important commitments that we simply can´t get out of.

To make time to get outdoors and enjoy the benefits that come with reconnecting with the natural world, the first thing we need to do is to disconnect. Make it a priority to turn off the phone, TV, and other screens that dominate our lives at least one day a week in order to enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about getting that last email answered.

Another great way to help you and your family enjoy the natural world is through taking a vacation. By physically removing ourselves from the routines of our everyday, screen-filled lives, we allow ourselves to fully experience the wider world. To plan out an unforgettable family vacation to the Great Outdoors, check out Live Once Live Wild which has several complete guides on some of the most iconic national parks our country has to offer.

Handling Stress, Meditation and You… Bringing it all Together Effortlessly! An Interview with Ajayan Borys of Effortless Mind Meditation – Part 2

How many of us have read of the benefits of meditation—and may have even tried it?—only to find ourselves stymied, frustrated, bored, wondering if we are “doing it right”? Well, enter Ajayan Borys–Ajayan is someone who has spent much of his life practicing, learning and teaching meditation–nearly 50 YEARS–and in this time, he’s come away with a few key insights about the practice and role of meditation.

Here is Part 2 of the interview I did with Ajayan Borys and his insights into the ease of a regular practice of meditation, as presented in his book, Effortless Mind Meditation.  

Click on the video to listen and learn – meditation can be a regular, joyful part of your life, and Ajayan shares how.

To see Part 1 of our interview, click here.

Ajayan’s website (ajayan.com) is dedicated to helping people learn how to meditate regularly with ease, he’s written a book (which I have gifted with love to share this message!), Effortless Mind Meditation: Meditate with Ease—and he has just opened a membership site dedicated to meditation practice!

FANTASTIC Opener for the Shoulders and Upper Back!!

Thank you, David of DoYogaWithMe.com, for this amazingly effective class!  Enjoy!

Amazing upper back and shoulder release class!

Drishti Yoga Flow with Shivani Wells | DoYogaWithMe.com

An intermediate flow yoga class taught by Shivani Wells. A free online yoga video from DoYogaWithMe.com.

via Drishti Yoga Flow with Shivani Wells | DoYogaWithMe.com.

Beginner’s Yoga for Restoring Balance, with David Procyshyn | DoYogaWithMe.com

Absolutely love David’s classes, and this Beginner’s class on balance is no exception.  Set aside the time and honor yourself with this teaching 🙂  Restoring Balance with David Procyshyn | DoYogaWithMe.com.

Yoga for Hips, Hamstrings & Lower Back | DoYogaWithMe.com

This free online yoga class is slow, gentle and offers a deep opening for the muscles around the hips, lower back and legs. Its pace alone allows you to sink into a beautiful state of calm.

via Yoga for Hips, Hamstrings & Lower Back | DoYogaWithMe.com.

Exercising at Home–Staying Strong and Supple in Your Comfy Clothes

Some of the equipment I have at home–functional, sturdy and easy to store in the closet when not in use! 

I absolutely love exercising at home. I can wear what I like, I can check my email or listen to a webinar, and I can pace myself, based on what feels like the right next thing to do.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am an avid walker—it is such a great form of exercise, getting me in the sunshine for a splash of Vitamin D and breathing fresh air. Sometimes I’ll add some jogging to the routine, if I feel like it, whatever seems to fit for that half an hour or so that I’m out and about.

But when I’m at home and it’s time to do a little strength training and stretching, I so appreciate having some good, basic equipment on hand. These are some of my stand-bys:

Rebounding is an excellent way to move the lymph, get a cardiovascular workout–and save your joints!  But not all rebounders are built alike.  My favorite is the Bellicon from Germany.  Made with bungee cords and extra flexible materials, it is unlike any other rebounder I’ve used before.  Once you experience the fun and comfort of using a Bellicon, you’ll see for yourself why this is the next level of rebounding!

Balance balls are fantastic for improving motor skills while doing different strengthening exercises. I like to use mine, doing a modified push-up, with the lower abdomen on the ball and the legs extended behind. It is also a terrific base for doing abdominal work, again, working with balance and proprioception, while allowing the sacrum to move, rather than being compressed on the ground. There are handbooks that show many different types of exercises using a balance ball that you can keep handy for reference–my personal fave is from Paul Chek, How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy

Resistance bands are wonderful tools for increasing strength, whether focusing on the arms, the hips, the bum or legs. Again, there are reference tools that make using this type of equipment a breeze. As a bonus, this type of strength training equipment is inexpensive to purchase and comes in various degrees of resistance, and it won’t hurt if you drop it on your foot.

yoga mat , whether practicing yoga or not, is another indispensable piece of equipment. It allows a little additional padding from the floor, and keeps feet and hands from slipping when stretching, balancing or doing some strength training.

A few different hand weights of various sizes are great, too. Smaller weights are easy to hold when doing interval training, such as performing a stationary squat.

In this exercise, the hands start at the shoulders, then rise over the head, then go to the floor as you squat down. This process is repeated for 20-30 quick repetitions to bring the heart rate up while strengthening all the major muscles of the body. It is a thigh- and bum-burner!

Hand weights are also good equipment when doing chest and arm exercises with the balance ball.

And when the exercising is complete, it is really a good idea to do stretching. Paul Chek’s book is a great resource here for direction and inspiration.

I generally encourage my patients to stretch just to the point where they feel the stretch, then hold for no more than 2 seconds, then release the muscle totally, then repeat. Stretching in this manner keeps the muscle body from engaging its self-protective mechanisms that keep muscles from tearing by radical moves. Just going to the stretching point, holding for a maximum of 2 seconds, releasing, then repeating for 7 or 8 repetitions gets around this mechanism and allows for a very deep stretch.

Additionally, it is often a good idea to do a little self-massage–a body roller is a great tool for relieving tight muscles, such as the iliotibial band along the the sides of the thighs.

Taking care goes beyond eating well and using healthy products—we are meant to move, and having some good, basic exercise equipment makes this effort very easy and enjoyable!

Interval Training — Fight Fat and Slow Down the Aging Process!

Interval training —have you heard of it? It’s a type of exercise that is becoming increasingly popular these days, and there are some very good reasons why. Let’s look at a few here, and some pointers on how to do it.

For a long, long time, most of us have believed that endurance-focused, aerobic exercise is the way to fight fat, and become lean. However, research is showing that this type of exercise, in fact, is not the way to lose fat and gain muscle. Why might this be?

Believe it or not, the reason is closely tied to hormones.

And before we go any farther with this discussion, I’d like you to envision a sprinter and a marathon runner.

Got it in your mind? Good. What do you see?

Is the sprinter full of compact, strong muscles that are full of tone? And is the marathon runner very thin, with slight musculature? Who looks healthier and more robust to you?

If you answered the sprinter, then interval training, also sometimes referred to as burst training, is a means to create such musculature and strength in your own body. Let’s see how.

When we do endurance training, two hormones that have a huge impact on anti-aging, human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone, are pushed down for about 36 hours after we finish exercising. Additionally, long, low-intensity endurance training increases oxidative stress in the body—and oxidative stress ages us and makes us more susceptible to injury and illness.

That being said, while doing this type of exercise, you ARE burning fat—but for the next 36 hours you’re a carbohydrate-burner, consuming your muscle rather than fat.

So, would you rather burn fat for the period of time that you’re exercising, or would you rather burn it for a day to a day-and-a-half following exercise? And would you rather allocate an hour a day to exercise, or 12-15 minutes, every other day, to exercise?

If you choose the second options, then you should definitely consider interval training.

Interval training is a type of exercise that can be done by any person of any age, using many ways of bringing the heart rate up for a short period, then resting and allowing the heart rate to return to normal, then bringing it up again.

By doing 3-4 sets of 30-60 second bursts of activity, followed by a period of time that allows the heart rate to return to normal resting rate, a person can accomplish 24-36 hours of fat-burning—all for about 12-15 minutes of effort, every other day (and this period of rest really is important, as it allows the muscles to heal and recover.)

How can this be?

If you take all that happened in the endurance activities related to hormones and oxidative stress, and flip it, you’ll have your answer.

Interval training pushes the hormones for weight loss and anti-aging in the correct direction—HGH and testosterone are raised. And while only sugar is burned during this type of training, not fat, once the training is complete, fat is the medium of energy that is burned for the next 24-36 hours—while you’re working on the computer, sitting down to eat, even sleeping!

As you can see, interval training definitely is worth your consideration.

So, how do you do interval, burst training?

You could ride a stationery bike, work on an elliptical machine, sprint on a trail, run up stairs, jump around in your living room (kids love this technique, by the way!) —there are lots of ways to bring your heart rate up, and hold it there for 30-60 seconds. Then allow your breathing and heart rate to return to normal, then repeat the burst exercise. Do this 3-4 times, total, and you will have completed your exercise for the next 24-36 hours!

To further capitalize on this type of training, you might consider bringing in weight or resistance training, to further build muscle. As most of know, more muscle in the body leads to a higher resting metabolism than more fat in the body.

If you want to incorporate strength training, it might look like this:

If you work out on Monday, doing your 3-4 burst intervals, you would follow with 1 round of weight/resistance training, to the point of muscle exhaustion, in your large lower body muscles.

Then, on Wednesday, you would do your 3-4 burst intervals, followed by 1 round of weight/resistance training, to the point of muscle exhaustion, in your large upper body muscles.

Repeat the Monday workout on Friday, then repeat Wednesday’s workout on Sunday, so on and so forth.

I encourage you to give this a try—and please let me know any fun or creative ways you “burst”—as always, there is collective synergy in the wisdom we each have to share!

Exercise — It Does a Body Good

Exercise is one of those topics that I find I’m discussing regularly—with patients, my husband, a neighbor, my children, friends—it’s something that finds its way into at least one conversation daily, but usually more often than that.

And why might this be?

Well, I think the reasons are as many as the facets of what moving our bodies does for us.

In my health-care practice , I will suggest it as a means to help a patient relieve anxiety or depression, through the release of endorphins and the increase of oxygen to the brain and the body’s tissues. Or I might be helping someone with being overweight, or experiencing insulin resistance, and I find out they are stymied by not being able to lose weight. Or it could relate to over-training, leading to injury of a joint or muscle-group.

In my exchanges with friends and family, it might be an issue of being unable to gain weight, despite a healthy diet. Or it might be a nagging shoulder pain from working too many consecutive hours on the computer. Sometimes it is just a discussion of who is doing what type of exercise and how it is working.

And goodness knows, I’ve run the gamut of exercise in my own life—from self-avowed couch potato in my early teen years, to aerobics-fiend in my late teens and early ‘20’s, to avid walker/occasional jogger and mediocre yoga practitioner in my late ‘20’s and early ‘30’s, to today, where a daily walk outdoors, interval training stretching and strength-building exercises make up the bulk of my formal “exercise.”

And in this period of time, there are some things I’ve learned, the first of which is that what works for one person, will not always work for the next. I’m also a big believer in keeping things simple, that when all else fails, I am never let down by lacing up my tennis shoes and taking a walk. I also have a deep respect for good stretching, done safely and daily—keeping the muscles loose keeps them oxygenated and primed for their function of contraction (it’s hard to contract something that is already contracted!) Keeping muscles toned through strength-building is key, too—the adage “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” takes on heightened significance the older we get.

We have developed over the millennia in accordance with what is required of us, physically, for survival. As hunter-gatherers, we walked the land and had very physically-demanding short bursts of energy required as we chased down our prey and prepared it for consumption.

The next era in human development was agriculturally-centered, also a very physical way of life, as land was tilled, planted and harvested. We had homes and farms to keep, water to haul, animals to tend.

These ways were our ways until the Industrial Revolution of the last 200 or so years. This shift decreased our physical demands for survival to a degree as we became more reliant on the services provided by a societal network of different skill-sets, and less on a home unit that was productive of many of the family’s needs.

This change in physical output for survival continued as we transitioned into the Technological Age, moving us further from daily physical activity to repetitive, machine-centric efforts as a means of commerce and economic return.

And in today’s modern technological age, most of us are hard-pressed to find much that is truly physically-demanding in our survival needs. As with the human drive to consume simple carbohydrates—a quick-nutrition source that was in short supply in our ancestor’s day—our desire to do less physically is something we have to actively challenge.

Certainly, we can all read about the importance of exercise, but if we are not called to do it in order to survive, then our instinct is to rest, to conserve our energy. And just as with the preponderance of packaged, carbohydrate-rich foods that greet us as we enter the gas station, or line the shelves as we leave the grocery store, we have to fight our impulse to act on these modern-day low-hanging fruit.

We have to actively, mentally pursue the notion of moving our bodies and foregoing sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods. Thank goodness for a prefrontal cortex!

So, this will be a portal for greater discussion on all-things related to moving the body. From stretching, to exercise equipment, to research on the most beneficial types of exercise for strength-building to fat-burning—there are many ways to take care of ourselves, naturally, by doing the thing we are designed to do: Move!