When thinking of a calm and relaxing vacation, most people will picture a sunny beach, a sunny cruise or maybe even a sunny fishing trip – notice a trend?
The sun is an obvious and proven factor in boosting both your energy and mood. But did you know that it can also improve your bone health and muscle strength? When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces vitamin D that strengthens your bones and muscles and in turn, reduces the risk of falls and diseases. Therefore, by routinely exercising and increasing your safe exposure to the sun, you can strengthen both your emotional and spine health all at once.
Luckily, we live in a state where sunshine is in great supply – so bring your exercise routine outside!
Here are 4 exercises that will strengthen your spine and help you reap all the benefits the sun has to offer.
1. Swimming– Swimming and other water-based exercises can help people with arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as people recovering from surgery. It can help ease joint movement without hindering the healing process, and can decrease pain caused by chronic illness.
Walking in water is another option if your condition makes swimming difficult. When you’re immersed in water, there is an intense amount of pressure placed on your body. The water flow adds resistance when you walk, which will strengthen your muscles and provide a great overall workout. Start in shallow water and work your way up to a comfortable water level. The deeper the water, the harder the workout.
2. Walking/jogging – Adults should perform moderate aerobic physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week. This recommendation boils down to only about 20 minutes a day, so try taking a walk through a local park, around a lake, or to a coffee shop a few blocks away. Be sure to use proper walking technique and maintain a consistent and somewhat brisk pace to keep your heart rate slightly elevated. If your health permits – and with your doctor’s approval – you can try a light jog instead.
3. Yoga – This is the perfect exercise to build muscle, stretch your body, loosen your joints and help you relax. Stretching and relaxation are important to help maintain overall cardiac fitness, lower your blood pressure and potentially improve your immune system. If you’re new to yoga, stop by your community center or a local yoga studio and ask about their outdoor classes.
4. Tai Chi - A scientific review showed that Tai Chi can benefit bone health, cardiopulmonary fitness, balance and quality of life. This kind of exercise can help prevent falls and strengthen your spine. Tai Chi is traditionally practiced outside, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding an outdoor class in your community.
By increasing your time in the sun, you can brighten your mood, boost your health and improve your overall wellbeing. Of course, you should always ask your physician about what exercises and amount of sun exposure are right for you. Stay safe by wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water and taking breaks when needed. Once you find a few outdoor exercises that you love, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take advantage of our beautiful weather sooner!
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Calcium and Vitamin D: What You Need to Know. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Osteoporosis Foundation: https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/
Health Benefits of Water-based Exercise. (2013, March). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/health_benefits_water_exercise....
Tai Chi and Qi Gong Show Some Beneficial Health Effects. (2010, July 1). Retrieved from National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/071910.htm
Tai Chi: An Introduction. (2010, August). Retrieved from National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm
Valentin-Oquendo, L. B. (n.d.). Facts about Vitamin D. Retrieved from UF IFAS Extension: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY20700.pdf
Vital Signs: Walking Among Adults - United States, 2005 and 2010. (2012, August 10). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6131a4.htm?s_cid=mm6131a4_w
Yoga Activity Card. (2012, April 13). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/bam/activity/cards/yoga.html