After completing my run on the Bluff Trail in Montano De Oro, I reflected on nature’s splendor and how much that she has to teach us about exercising and becoming healthy. Here are some of my observations:
1. Nature has its ups & downs: Trails have varied degrees of steepness & surfaces– sandy, muddy, rocky, even & uneven. Curves and turns limit our vision. All of which can hinder our footing requiring one to focus to keep their balance. As with life, we have our ups & downs & uncertainties. There are times of smooth sailing as well as are rocky & tumultuous periods. Sometimes en route with exercising and becoming healthy, it may be challenging to see how far we’ve progressed. Some feats are like conquering steep hills, when our leg muscles may “burn” at first and we may become short of breath. With steady dedication & determination, we make it up the hill. Our muscles become stronger even if we need to take a number of rest stops along the way.
2. Nature has “roots”: Shrubs, bushes, trees all have root systems allowing for water and nutrient absorption necessary for growth. The more widely extensive root system allows for withstanding fierce winds. In life we also benefit from being “rooted” and more present or mindful with our activities. This is especially important when exercising as it helps us have greater balance when challenged.
3. Nature shows us to be flexible: Against the pressure of wind, branches & leaves sway. As they are flexible so must our bodies. Our spine is meant to move a number of different ways. We need to be flexible enough to contort to positions, which allow us to ultimately keep our balance, fall more gracefully to minimize damage both physically & emotionally.
4. Nature teaches us respect & reverence: There are forces beyond us that we can’t control, such as the direction of water current or the tides. Nor can we control the fierceness of wind or rain. We cannot predict earthquakes or the direction a hurricane will run. Just as we would build a levy to contain a flood, we need to make ourselves to stronger when we have the unpredictability of health incidents. We do this through lifestyles changes such as stretching & exercising, having optimal posture, eating well, reducing stress in our lives. There are times when the weather is too adverse & unsafe to be outside. Illness and fatigue can be like adverse weather and sometimes the wisest & safest decision is to wait another day, rest or participate in a very easy, gentle exercise indoors, like we would wait out a storm.
5. Nature is adversely affected by pollution: Oil spills, as well as chemical & radiation toxicity pollute our waters as well as affect the ecological balance of algae and fish. Just like our waters, what we put in our bodies simply helps or hurts us. We are more vital when we eat clean, non-GMO, organic foods compared with those foods that are processed & mass-produced.
There are a number of other life lessons we can extrapolate from nature. Taking the time to get out observe, absorb, learn and have fun is one of the best ways to exercise the body, as well as the heart and soul.