The 920 | Healthy Living

Healthy Living July 2020

5 Ways to Enjoy a Summer of Social Distancing

by Gayle Cottrill

 For most of us, this summer is going to feel different than most, and while many businesses and parks have opened back up, many people are still taking precautions with where they go and who they see. So, what does a summer of social distancing look like, and what sort of things can you do to enjoy it? The short answer is many things! But for starters, here are five simple ways you can stay safe and healthy.

Go for a bike ride.

Biking is a low-impact exercise which goes easy on your joints and can also turn into a cardio workout. Unless you bike on a congested trail, this activity makes it easy to keep a safe distance from other people. You can bike alone or with your family. There are several fun bike trails in the Fox Cities such as Loop the Little Lake Trail in Neenah and Menasha. If you fall in love with biking, consider joining the National Bike Challenge 2020.

Take regular walks.

The American Heart Association recommends adults spend at least 150 minutes a week doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which is about 20 minutes a day. You can find a time and route that are best for you right in your own neighborhood to fit your schedule and your personal social distancing practices. Walking every day is a simple way to keep your heart healthy and spend some time soaking up the sun.

Explore the countryside.

If you are looking to escape the bustle of city life and want to find a place to walk or bike in a more serene environment, head out to the countryside. It won’t take long to get there. Explore Rustic Road 53, part of the state’s Rustic Road system. The lightly traveled roads are some of the most scenic in the state and are perfect for hikers, bikers, or even drivers.

Go on a scavenger hunt.

For a family-fun option, scavenger hunts are perfect for all ages. Plan a walk through your neighborhood or a part of town you’ve never been in. Watch for animals, different colored flowers, count flags, or collect objects in nature to study or use in art. The options are endless, and an activity like this is a great way to burn energy, spend time together outdoors, and add exercise to your day.

Relax and rejuvenate.

And finally, let’s not forget the importance of relaxation. Life in general is always busy and filled with stress, and summer is no exception as we try to pack in get-togethers, vacations, and countless other activities. As important as it is to be active, it is just as important to slow down and rejuvenate. After a busy day, sit outside, take in deep breaths of fresh air, and watch the sun set, the sky darken, and the stars brighten.

If you’re still looking for ideas, check out your local parks and recreation website. Many are offering virtual programming and regular updates about the status of their pools and summer programs.

Healthy Living

Five Reasons to Add Meditation to Your Daily Routine

by Gayle Cottrill

Meditation is believed to have originated in India thousands of years ago, although that is only where we have found the first documentation of the practice in writing and images. It could have started even earlier, its instruction passed on by word of mouth.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that meditation became popular in the west. Since the 1960s, studies have been done in the United States to understand the health benefits of meditation, and today it is widely accepted that the practice can help us physically as well as psychologically. Here are five ways that meditation can help your mind and your body.

Meditation helps your brain.

Research has found that meditation helps your brain stay healthy. Meditation increases blood flow to the brain and frequent meditation helps keep your mind sharp and aids in memory retention, even as you age. There are different types of meditation practices you can follow, and depending on the benefits you would like to focus on, you can choose the type that will help you the most.

Meditation helps fight stress and stress-related symptoms.

Probably one of the most well-known reasons people turn to meditation is to help reduce stress and anxiety. The most basic way to meditate keeps you focused on your breathing and clearing your mind. Continued meditative practices lower levels of cortisol, more commonly referred to as the “stress hormone.” Reducing this hormone in your system in turn decreases stress, which can also prevent conditions that are byproducts of that stress. 

Meditation helps your heart and body.

As you allow your body to relax through meditation and lower stress levels, your body naturally focuses on taking care of other important matters. Your immune system can receive a boost with added attention being given to it. Tensed muscles are allowed to relax, potentially preventing injuries from muscle strain. Meditation also reduces your heart rate and blood pressure. 

Meditation helps emotional stability.

Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness and a way to become more self-aware. As you reflect upon your life, you may find your self confidence building. Feeling less stressed and understanding how you handle stressors can pave the way for more optimism and better decision-making. Meditating consistently also can boost levels of serotonin, a hormone that, when lacking, can cause low energy and negative feelings.

Meditation is easy and affordable.

There are many free apps and online videos that you can access for guided meditation sessions. Depending on your experience or ability, you can choose the type and length of meditation that is the best fit for you and your lifestyle. Even a 10-minute meditation break can help you feel recharged and ready to tackle the next part of your day. For an exercise with so many health benefits that is painless, free, and doesn’t take up a lot of your day, meditation can be a great addition to your daily routine.