It’s Earth Day 2019 as we pen this article, and we are using the event as inspiration to get you outdoors and connect you to the nature that is so bountiful in the Greater Vancouver area, especially here in Burnaby where our clinic has its roots. While your physical therapy begins and maintains in the clinic/facility environment, what you do when you step out of the doors also has a major impact on your return (or introduction) to optimal physical health. However, it can be tough staying motivated when in your home or local gym environment, which is why many of you are seeking a more natural arena to perform exercise and complement the hard work you’re doing with your physiotherapist. Working out outdoors leads to increased engagement levels, and when you’re better engaged you will more likely follow through on the commitment you made to yourself to improve your physical health and wellness. Let’s take a look at some great outdoor activities that are very accessible in the Greater Vancouver area, and will help support your physiotherapy plan.
Four Activities to Support Your Physical Therapy Goals and Get You Outdoors to Connect to the Planet
1. Barefoot Beach Running
This is a great activity that has some unexpected benefits. Beyond being a dream way to start or end a day, beach running supports the muscles you may be ignoring in your normal fitness regime. The uneven surface of the sand forces you to engage stabilizing muscles such as the gluteus medius ( one of several hip muscles) which affords them conditioning that they typically don’t receive when you’re running on a flat surface such as a track or the Stanley Park Seawall. After a season of beach jogs you will assist in strengthening the stabilizers to the point that they are proportionately equal to the bigger movers such as your calves and hamstrings, something that can help keep you injury free. View more on the benefits of barefoot beach jogging.
In addition to strengthening your stabilizer muscles while connecting to the sand of the earth and enjoying some beach fun, you will have the opportunity to partake in beach cleanups on the way back from your jogs – which ties into the very concept (Earth Day!) that launched today’s article.
2. Ocean/Lake Swimming
Swimming offers the ultimate full body workout as it forces your body to engage its core and nearly all of your muscle groups, with concentration dependent upon the type of swimming you do (front stroke, backstroke, etc.). While nearly all forms of swimming are good for you, there’s nothing like hitting Mother Nature’s oceans or lakes for this physical activity. Cold water (what you’ll find in Greater Vancouver area waters) swimming has many health benefits when compared to that of tropical climates and recreational centers’ heated chlorinated ponds. It helps boost your immune system, naturally ramps up your endorphins, enhances blood circulation, may improve respiratory health, and burns more calories. View more on the benefits of physiotherapy for swimming, and vice versa.
This one also puts you in the Earth’s waters as a channel to greater physical health. Paddling can come in a few forms, but both stand up paddle-boarding (SUPing) and kayaking are extremely popular in Greater Vancouver. Paddle-boarding provides a full body workout, improves balance and core strength, enhances cardiovascular strength and endurance, and is even a fantastic low impact physical activity that is commonly used to rehabilitate injuries that you may be seeing a physiotherapist for in the first place. Kayaking offers more of the same, and can also provide you the opportunity to gain even greater shoulder strength and fitness, and when done in good form may improve the function of the other working parts such as your elbows, forearms, and wrists, all of which will come in handy in combating potential for tennis or golf elbow, and more. View more on the physical therapy benefits of paddle boarding and kayaking.
From Burnaby Mountain to Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver and beyond, hiking is probably the most popular of all outdoor fitness activities in the Lower Mainland, and when it comes to supporting your physical therapy plan it can be a great supplement. When done with proper preparation and form (there’s that qualifier, again) hiking can strengthen and improve function in your hamstrings, adductors, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior. View more on the benefits of physiotherapy for hiking, and vice versa. And like with beach based activities you can take the opportunity to pick up some trash along the way and repay the planet for providing you with the ultimate stadium for reaching your fitness goals.
If you’re not already seeing a physiotherapist, be sure to consult with one before making any of the above a part of your outdoor activity regime as a professional will help you avoid injury and improve your performance. The latter will invariably translate into an even more enjoyable experience, and allow you to better connect to the natural surroundings. If you live within the Greater Vancouver area, contact our Burnaby clinic today at 604.558.2273 to schedule a consultation.