If you are someone who is inactive because you are tied to a desk job and because you really like watching all your favourite TV series, or you go to the pub a lot and you don’t have time to get out, this post is for you! Some people are really fortunate because their work keeps them active and hopefully they also get to be outside a lot, they are the lucky few. Most of us spend a lot of time at a computer or at a desk. This was fine while we were still at school because we only worked half day, and spent time playing sports in the afternoon. That is not to say that what I am going to say does not apply to young people, who live in a technological age that is threatening to turn Homo sapiens into a not-quite-upright species. Could we end up looking like question marks?
If you are someone who cannot move around a lot as a result of an illness or disability, then what I am going to say does not apply to you at all (in terms of movement, but if you can get outside you totally should). If however you are able to walk to MacDonald’s or KFC but you choose not to in favour of the drive-thru then this is for you. We all know terms such as couch potato and what they mean, and we know that if we were to exercise more and eat less, fewer people would be suffering from obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Before I sound too judgy about people who are pudgy, let me say that physical health is but one of the issues. When we start to move, especially outdoors, we start improving not only our physical health but our state of mind and emotional wellbeing too. A scientific study published in the research journal Environmental Science and Technology, on February 4th 2011, concluded that there are benefits to mental and physical wellbeing from taking exercise in the natural environment. When we exercise we spend less time dumbing down in front of the TV.
I hope that you will take my advice and realise for yourself that it’s time to move, as I did about eight years ago. I decided it was time to get fit. At the age of thirty-nine I was a bit podgy and I set myself a challenge, that I would do every long distance Mountain Bike Race within a 200km radius of my hometown in the calendar year 2008. I did thirteen races in eleven months, some of which were really tough. I lost 11kgs of fat by the end of that year, and was now a fit forty year old. It felt great to be lean and I knew that I would continue with this healthy lifestyle. The exercise bug had bitten, but something deeper had taken root, a deep and abiding love of nature. Being in it. The clean air. The aesthetic beauty of it. The sounds, of birds, the breeze, and my own breathing. I felt that my senses were heightened and therefore more alive!
Having trimmed my body down I needed to give running a go and so I did. I got running fit and then a friend at the running club came with tales of a seemingly mythical event called Ironman. He told of the 3.8km open sea swim, a 180km bike ride, followed by a full marathon, all in a one day event. I was aghast. In 2009, I completed my first Ironman 70.3, first Ironman, first ultra-marathon (Comrades Marathon, 89km), and first big trail run (Rhodes Run, 52km). As I write this I am training (not actually physically while I write) for my fifth Ironman 70.3, eighth Ironman, and eighth Rhodes Run. I have still only done one Comrades because ultra-road running isn’t really my thing (and its shit hard). I have done a couple of epic trail runs though, notably the Salomon Sky Run (100km, check out www.pureadventures.co.za ), and a few multi day events like the Hobbit 100 (epic and spectacular, check out www.mountainrunner.co.za ), the Wild Coast Challenge (3 days of rugged South African coastline, check out Outhere Trails on fb), Merrel Extreme, and so on.
Not everyone wants to do extreme endurance sport and it is not necessary to do it. My story is an example of where the journey can lead you to if you do want it.To reap the benefits of exercising in the natural environment you only need to get outside and move, elevate the heart rate and breathe. Do it early morning if you are a morning person like I am, or in the evening if you’re not. Very few people are actually too busy. Make the time to invest in your wellbeing. Take off your shoes and walk on the beach, or on the grass (check out www.earthing.com) and connect to the earth’s natural energy.
LIVE THIS LIFE