Chiropractic & Exercise
I like to hike. Today I went for hike on Squawk Mountain. It was a bit rainy and cold – and I had a great time!
Living in the Pacific Northwest offers a vast array of outdoor activities, from boating, to skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, to leisurely walks along the beach. My favorite, at this point in my life, is day hiking. But before I get to that, I would like to write a little about exercise in general.
The research that has been published over the last two-plus decades, regarding the benefits of exercise is remarkable. Here is a short list of the health problems that exercise can help manage, and/or cure, and or prevent: Heart Disease and cancer (the two top causes of death in the U.S.!), diabetes, depression, sleep disorders, chronic pain, and the list goes on.
Why does exercise help with such a wide variety of problems? Because if done correctly – exercise improves virtually all of the body’s basic functions, and it does this in a myriad of ways. And here is the kicker; ANY exercise is better than none! AND – More exercise is better than less. As long as you can avoid inuring yourself, and avoid overdoing it – the benefits of exercise continue to accrue at almost every level of activity. (If you have a serious heart condition or other medical problem that would limit your ability to exercise – please consult with me, or your medical doctor.)
Now, back to hiking! On the hike up Squawk Mountain, it started off pretty easy. The path was level, and the walk was leisurely. But alas – don’t be fooled. This 6.6 round-trip hike has an elevation gain of about 1600 feet. As the hike progressed my hiking partner and I encountered some seriously steep inclines. The heart started to beat heavier, the breathing became deeper with more effort, then my legs began to ache. Yikes!
But then the path leveled out again for a while – before another steep climb. This is one of the cool things about hiking: It has interval training built right in! Interval training takes you through random changes in intensity of exercise, and is considered by many experts to give the most benefit. Hiking also allows me to get a bunch of fresh air, walking among nature, absorb negative ions (which are healthy); see beautiful scenery AND walking a dirt and rock paths is better for your body and nervous system then walking (or running) on concrete!
OK – there is my short list of the benefits of exercise and hiking! There are many hikes that easy, and many that are extremely difficult. Whether it is hiking or some other exercise – it is always best to start out slow and build your tolerance and stamina. Don’t try to climb Mount Everest on your first hike!
Chiropractic and exercise are great partners. This is because chiropractic care also has a global effect on your body’s ability to maintain health and well being, and has a positive effect on overall physiological functions, just like exercise does.
Here are some resources for hiking in the Northwest and exercise in general:
Northwest Trails Association: http://www.wta.org
Mayo Clinic Exercise Article: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389