The American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau roamed far and wide over the hills and mountains of his native Massachusetts and neighboring New Hampshire. In his masterwork, “Walden,” Thoreau famously stated that we must “reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep.” One of Thoreau’s primary methods for maintaining such wakefulness was to explore the natural world and spend significant time outdoors every day.
Those who live in New England may literally walk in Thoreau’s footsteps, rambling around the countryside in the environs of his native Concord, Massachusetts, and climbing the regional mountains of Wachusett, Greylock, Wantastiquet, Katahdin, and Monadnock. Those of us who live elsewhere may recreate Thoreau’s sense of awe, wonder, and accomplishment by discovering the beauty and grandeur of our own locales, whether they be the desert landscapes of the American southwest, the sweeping vistas of the Canadian heartland, or the dense forests of central Europe. The great thing, as Thoreau knew, is to get outside, walk around, and reacquaint and reintegrate ourselves with our environment and the abundance of life surrounding us.
The exercise we obtain by adhering to Thoreau’s prescriptions provides ongoing vigorous physical activity and contributes substantially to our long-term health and well-being. Such outdoor exercise can be done by anyone, including young children and the oldest of seniors.1,2 Some may want to climb actual hills and mountains, but staying right at sea level will also provide quality exercise that is profoundly beneficial. The key for all of us is to exercise regularly. Exercising five days a week, for at least 30 minutes each day, is optimal and such a program is recommended by federal governments and healthcare organizations. As well, optimal weekly exercise includes both strength training and cardiovascular activities. These two forms of exercise are synergistic in that doing one type of exercise reinforces the benefits of the other. When you engage in both cardiovascular and strength training exercises on a regular basis, you quickly make gains in the areas of strength, endurance, coordination, balance, and flexibility. As well, we may notice that physical fitness enhances our ability to concentrate, be creative, generate new ideas, and get more done.3
Regular chiropractic care is an important component of all our physical fitness and wellness activities and helps ensure that all of our physiological systems are functioning at peak capacity. Regular chiropractic care optimizes our spinal biomechanics and the flow of information through our nerve systems, and helps make sure that all the processes that keep us healthy and well are coordinated and working in harmony. Overall, regular chiropractic care helps us obtain the most from our exercise program and contributes substantially to the health and well-being of our families and ourselves.
1 Soga M, et al: Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Prev Med Res 5:92-99, 2016
2 Jenkins DW, Jenks A: Hiking with Diabetes: Risks and Benefits. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 107(5):382-392, 2017
3 Schuch FB, et al: Exercise for depression in older adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials adjusting for publication bias. Rev Bras Psiquiatr 38(3):247-254, 2016