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Monday, April 4, 2016

pjsc # 126 Forest Exercise

Hiking with poles.  Doesn’t sound too earth shaking, does it?  But, as you know if you are a regular visitor to or listener to either PaleoJay’s Smoothie Cafe or Paleo Quick Tip of the Day,  I pretty much go into my woods for a hike every afternoon.  Usually I take my “heavy hands” with me, meaning I pump small dumb bells in my arms as I go.  Believe me, if you have never tried this method of working out (which I combine with “forest bathing” by getting out into nature as I go) you really should!  It works your entire body, rather than just your legs, since as you pump your arms in curls, or side lateral raises you are engaging the upper half of your body at least as hard as the lower half.
I really like to mimic cross country skiing with the dumb bells (usually 8 lbs in each hand), swinging the weights from high to the back as if I was poling myself on my skis.  (It’s actually more taxing than skiing, and thus more productive exercise-wise).  I do duck walks with the weights to really hit the quads, and other moves that I have made up over time.  Try it!  If you can find the book Heavy Hands by Leonard Schwartz, get it- he pioneered this form of exercise back in the 1980’s, and he explains it eloquently.
But, back to hiking with poles!  I have a slight shoulder injury I sustained while cutting and moving wood, and so I have been substituting hiking with ski poles.  I really lean into the upper body, and so the upper body gets a fantastic workout as I walk, just as it does with the heavy hand weights. But it is easier on the shoulder joint right now for me with the poles.
Also, we have had snow the past couple of days (hurrah Wisconsin!), and my hilly land is quite slippery with a little snow- the poles keep you upright easily, and spread the load over four limbs (like a cat) rather than just two.
I was out this past summer in Montana, in the wonderful Glacier National Park.  I recommend you visit it at some point, it is spectacular!  Anyway, there are a number of employees of the park that monitor wildlife, and watch for forest fires.  They spend their days wandering the huge park, through the woods and up steep mountainsides.  They all hike with ski poles, and look to be very fit indeed!  They get the adjustable kind, that collapse really small when they want to get on the bus that takes them back down, or back up again.
I have poles like that, and they are handy as can be.  In fact, I don’t like to hike without them!
So there you go.  A simple little trick that will double your hiking ability instantly, and also double it’s effectiveness as exercise!  But above all, just get out into nature, however you enjoy it.  We are creatures of nature, even though we tend to forget it, and if we separate ourselves from the natural world we are pretty much locking ourselves into man-made cages.  Let yourself out on a daily basis, for at least a little while- your body and mind will thank you.