It’s August. My favorite season is nearing its end. Such a great time of year to ride my bike, hike, walk and swim. Sometimes, I need to exercise earlier in the morning than I’d like, but I always feel like patting myself on the back when I’m done. I never sure which comes first – feeling great physically or feeling great emotionally. They’re so closely linked it’s hard to tell. But what I know without a doubt is this: What’s good for your brain is good for your bod. Even those days when the last thing I’m in the mood for is exercise and if I go out anyway, there’s always a sense of accomplishment, completion, and satisfaction. Those little old endorphins begin kicking in.
It’s true that gyms are great when the weather is uncooperative. But if the weather is cooperating, the outdoors is still the best, most relaxing and often the most beautiful environment to exercise. There’s nothing like a walk on the beach or a hike on the trail. Taking deep breaths of fresh air clears my lungs and secondarily, my head. It’s hard to worry about work, home and your life in general on a beautiful day out in nature – the original, drug-free tranquilizer.
To feel close to nature some enjoy camping. Others, like us Brooklyn girls, prefer a hotel with a real floor, a real bathroom and a real bed! Either way, sleeping in a tent, a camper or in a hotel, then waking up and stepping out into nature is always invigorating, healthy and an excellent stress reliever. And as we all know, long term, emotional stress has a way of finding a cozy, little spot in your body to set up shop and create some serious health problems, i.e., high blood pressure, colitis/gastritis, heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety. No need to elaborate further about what chronic stress can do to your body. I know you know.
So, while we’re still enjoying the summer or even when fall rolls around, why not get out in nature and enjoy our exquisite national parks. Here are some suggestions:
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska – nps.gov/kenaifjords
Sequoia National Park, California – nps.gov/seki
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia – nps.gov/shen
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – nps.gov/grte
Apostle Island National Lakeshore, Wisconsin – nps.gov/apis
Zion National Park, Utah – nps.gov/zion
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee – nps.gov/grsm
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky – nps.gov/maca
What’s good for your brain is good for your bod.