Fight your Pain While Enjoying the Outdoors this summer.
It’s summertime, and the sun is shining. The birds are chirping and the flowers are in bloom. Stiff, achy joints are loosening up, and it’s becoming much easier to get out of the house. Summer is here! The time has come to enjoy nature’s beauty while reaping its benefits.
Try these 7 great ways to work the pain out while enjoying the summer months:
Walking is the easiest way to get exercise. It supports healthy joint movement (for those arthritic knees), while providing opportunities for good blood flow and mild muscle stimulation. Walking through a park gives you plenty to look at, while taking a friend will give you a chat and maybe a laugh while doing so. Not only is it refreshing and fun, you will probably walk further that if you worked out on a treadmill, too.
Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of brisk walking a day. For patients that are new to exercising, or in those that have conditions that require a slow pacing, starting with a few minutes a day is recommended. Work your way up slowly, adding a few more minutes per day each week. Always let your body tell you when it has had enough.
Hiking is a fantastic workout, and a great way to explore nature. It allows for great cardio, while lending a hand to joint health and weight control. The best way to begin hiking is to start small. Find short trails that have a low grade and a well carved path. Work your way up in length and difficulty very slowly, and make sure you are always prepared. Find the right shoes for the terrain, always carry water, and bring a few snacks in case you need a carb replenishment on a hike longer than a couple hours. Make sure you bring a hiking buddy. Not only will you have company, you have a second set of eyes (and hands if needed) if something happens.
For a map of popular hiking trails of all difficulty levels, check out this site: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/statetrails/
Or for maps, forecasts, and trail info on the go, try one of these apps that also allow map downloading in case you hit a dead zone. You can also track your hikes, take photos, and share your trips on Facebook.
Ridding your pain this season can be as simple as riding a bike. Cycling is great for arthritis as it promotes good joint movement. It is also beneficial for improving cardio health and building muscle.
When shopping for a bicycle, specialty bikes are made for pain sufferers. These bikes are ergonomically sound, and need to be custom fitted to the rider. It is important that the bike is fitted properly, as problems with the back or knees can ensue or become further agitated.
When starting a cycling routine, start small. Take a spin around the block and get acclimated to the ride. Slowly push yourself a little bit further everyday, one block at a time. If you ever get winded or start feeling pain, stop immediately.
For more information on cycling for pain, check out another article here: https://painresource.com/living-well/cycling-to-help-with-arthritis/
Swimming is probably the best form of exercise for pain patients. It’s low impact, meaning is easy on your joints and allows for good muscle stretching. Swimming laps also uses simple aerobic movements to allow you to exercise virtually pain free. The water supports and cushions you as you move, and provides just enough resistance to maximize your fitness success.
In a study done by the Kyoritsu Hospital in Japan, experts studied 35 patients with lower back pain using aquatic exercises like swimming and walking in the water. At the end of the study, over 90% of the patients reported an improvement in their condition. Those individuals who swam twice a week or more showed even more dramatic improvements than those who swam just once a week.
Many cities have swimming classes at local gyms and public pools, some designed specifically for people with pain. Call around to see if there are classes to fit your needs, and start enjoying this season with a really fun way to cool down and reduce your pain.
While you will need training on how to properly use paddles and what to do when the unexpected happens, kayaking can be a great way to condition and tone your body. It allows for lots of muscle and joint movement, and is great exercise for the back, arms, and core.
Kayaking can be enjoyed on pretty much any body of water. For beginners, it might be a good idea to start on a lake or pond, where the water is generally slow moving. This can give you a chance to get a feel for the kayak, how to paddle, and how to stabilize yourself. Enlisting a kayak trainer or guide is helpful for most people. Many waterfront recreational areas will have a kayaking and rafting expert nearby, ready to teach safety and technique for a small fee. Sometimes they will even guide you and a group on an adventure. Before you tackle the raging rapids, make sure the water is safe, that you are trained, and that you aren’t alone. Kayaking is so much fun, sometimes it’s easy to forget you are getting a workout!
This time of year is ideal for healthy eating. Local farmers are coming into peak harvest for many of their crops, and animals like chickens are more prone to laying eggs in the warmer months. Find a local farmer’s market and taste what these farms have to offer. Load up your bag with greens, herbs, and other items that tickle your fancy. Look for foods that are high in antioxidants other vitamins, as well as loaded with fiber and calcium. If you don’t have a farmer’s market near you, even a local grocery store should be getting in fresher vegetables and new seasonal finds. This year, get creative and try something new. Experiment with new flavors and ingredients and come up with new pain-fighting delicious recipes to share with your friends here at Pain Resource.
Fresh Air & Sunlight
Sometimes, we just don’t have the energy or ability to exercise or even leave home. On these days, what’s the best way to enjoy the season? Good ole’ Vitamin D and a breath of fresh air. Rather than sitting on the couch watching TV, sit outside on the lawn. Grab a comfy lawn chair, a Ginger Mint Lemonade, and watch the world go by. Lather up with sunscreen and absorb some sunshine. Fill up a shallow pool and dip your feet in. Turn on the radio and relax. What a perfect way to enjoy the little things, and make the most out of your summer.
What are your plans on warding off pain this spring?
Let us know in the comments!