When the winter starts to come to an end I get very excited for what the next months have ahead for me, so I am always excited rather than sad! After six months skiing, almost every day, my body and mind are ready to move and be challenged in different ways. In this blog I will look at how walking/hiking can be beneficial for both the body and mind.
How skiing can cause stresses on the body and mind
Skiing (no matter what level you are) can become quite a fixed position. I spend considerable time demonstrating and showing guests how they can develop their skills by repeating similar moves each session/day/week and this becomes repetitive on my joints and muscles.
My body makes efficient movements and shapes and knows how to respond to different terrain instinctively very quickly into a season without too much physical effort. Because of this, I find that certain muscles and ligaments only go through limited ranges of movement and may become shorter and less explosive (elastic) than I would like. Often this is without me realising until I start to feel particular niggles in my knees/back/shoulders. Basically, other joints start to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere and before I know it my biomechanical position becomes weaker rather than stronger. My body learns to protect itself, as best it can, but sometimes at a cost to other parts of the body.
As a ski instructor, I spend a lot of time looking at “white” surfaces offering very little real definition, which takes a lot of focus and concentration. The Snowsport Instructors mind is forever working, identifying risk in front, behind, to the left and to the right, under the skis and overhead. Terrain, snow conditions, obstacles, other random snowsport users, equipment, uplift, weather. Keeping guests, in their care, safe and giving an enjoyable session whilst adding to their skills and understanding. There is a lot going on!
The mind is an amazing thing and it multitasks in such a way that always blows me away. So many variables to deal with while on the move sliding down a slope. So, it is no wonder then that by the end of the season my mind relishes different inputs.
Keeping fit this summer walking my dogs
So, when the SPRING approaches I get very excited as I know the landscape will start to change and I will be able to get out into the mountains to do different things with my BODY and MIND.
Due to some of the physical stresses on my BODY, as noted above, there are some summer sports I cannot achieve, but I do love to get out and WALK the MOUNTAINS with my dogs.
Taking a walk gives me a chance to take time out, think and reflect. I like to feel the grass and ground under my feet, appreciate the foliage that changes day to day, be inspired by the views and wonders of nature.
I listen to the noises in the mountains such as the rivers flowing over the rocks and riverbeds, the animals and birds calling out to each other, the cow’s with bells moving across the valley and the trees moving in the wind. Feeling free watching as my dogs bound around and play wildly, without a care in the world.
No matter where you have the opportunity to walk you can spend the time taking in things around you that you have not got the time to notice in the everyday bustle of life. Whether you are in a city, suburb or countryside area you will be able to find different landscapes and environments in which you can essentially lose yourself in your own time and walk.
Walking is good for the MIND and BODY
When you exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released in the brain, which have a positive impact on your mood. Exercise also produces hormones that can improve sleep, help release muscle tension and reduce inflammation. So, it’s not just your physical self that is benefiting it’s also YOU as a person! Depending on what you want to achieve you can structure your walking to work towards a specific goal. For my body; I use it as weight loss/weight management, improving my cardio, allowing my body to realign, and strengthening my legs and glutes. For my mind; I appreciate the world around me, enjoy the company (and challenge) of my young dogs. There is also an opportunity to use meditative exercises to focus and bring some 'order' to my mind.
· Walking moves the body in different ways to our winter sport.
· Joints get to move in different ranges of movement at different rates.
· The impact and strain are less on the joints than some sports.
· You can change the rate of your walking to change (increase) your heart rate.
· You can use walking to burn more calories and use as a weight loss activity.
· You can change the gradient of your walks to increase your heart rate and work different muscles in your legs, hips and core.
· The peace and openness of the environment provides an opportunity to use meditative exercises to bring some order to the mind.
Using apps is a great way to motivate yourself and log your walks. I use a Fitbit watch to ensure my heart is working and recovering well enough and it syncs with the app on my phone providing other statistics such as steps, calories burned etc. You can set challenges and reminders to get you moving closer to your fitness goal. Many devices and apps are available.
So, get out there and Walk your way to your next Winter Season
Further information about walking for health: