Barefoot walking conjures images of children playing in open fields and families strolling on a beach, yet it can also embrace many other settings as part of a health and fitness routine and lifestyle of optimum wellness. As Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee attest in their new book, Barefoot Walking, “It’s not just physical; it’s soothing on an emotional and spiritual level.”
In adults, many muscles in our feet may have weakened and atrophied due to disuse from wearing shoes, which substitute the support and mobility that our bodies’ lower parts were created to provide. Years of wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels can also hamper bone density and proper alignment of each foot’s 28 bones; produce aches and pains in knees, back and neck; and constrict circulation to legs and feet, a condition compounded by desk jobs.
Trading in the car keys for more two-wheeled time could curb many of society’s woes, from spiraling healthcare costs to deepening carbon footprints. Yet, the main reason many bicyclists love going for a spin is that it yields a greater sense of well-being and contributes to a healthier, more rewarding life.
“I know it sounds crazy to say that bicycling is a silver bullet for all of these things, but I think it is,” says Elly Blue, 34, author of the recently released book, Everyday Bicycling: How to Ride a Bike for Transportation. Blue’s life was transformed when she made a bicycle part of her daily world; so much so that she now dedicates her writing career largely to the subject.
Last winter, Terry Chiplin went for an early morning run near his Colorado home. Snow crunched as his sneakered feet hit the front porch of his mountain lodge, tucked into a secluded forest. Evergreen boughs glistened in the sun, drooping slightly from the weight of the sparkling white powder. The running coach smiled as he lifted his face to the sky, welcoming the large, wet flakes that kissed his face.
“Can you picture it?” asks the bubbly British native and owner of Active at Altitude, in Estes Park. That is visualization, he explains, a concept he uses regularly at retreats he conducts for runners from beginner to elite as a holistic means of boosting performance. “It’s simply a succession of mental images; we use visualization all the time.”
CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program used by the military over the past decade, is growing in popularity with recreational athletes.
While most traditional exercise plans target a specific area of fitness—like jogging for cardiovascular health or weightlifting for strength—CrossFit focuses on all of them by combining many types of exercise. A typical mixture might include weightlifting, gymnastics, aerobics and explosive plyometrics, energetic and fast-acting movements that improve strength and speed. The goal is to enable the body to respond to many different and sometimes competing stimuli. “CrossFit training prepares the body not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable, as well,” explains Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit.
As millions of Americans ponder quitting newly launched fitness resolutions after finding it tough to squeeze in toning workouts or sweat off a few extra pounds, researchers implore: Don’t give up. Just pump out 20 minutes a day of any kind of exercise—take a brisk walk, jog, lift weights—and stop sitting so much. Results can bring a healthier, more youthful feeling of well-being, akin to what explorer Juan Ponce de León sought in the Americas long ago.
Energy is a hot commodity today, with online ads and storefront posters for so-called energy products shouting, “Feel the rush,” “Revitalize your mind,” and “Re-think the way you re-energize.” People are reaching for these artificial jolts in record numbers, but many buzz-seekers don’t realize they have free access to a much better energy shot: exercise.
Experts across the board agree that we would be wise to trade in our lattes and high-calorie power bars for a regular lunch-hour walk, because of the many happier returns exercise provides.
Between 15 and 20 million Americans practice yoga, spending an estimated $5.7 billion on classes and accessories. National Yoga Month, in September, reminds us to always make personal safety a guiding principle during practice sessions. Experts advise the following guidelines for practicing injury-free yoga.
Imagine feeling the surge of well-being that comes in strolling barefoot on a moist, sandy beach, or sinking all 10 toes into a cool, lush lawn on a warm summer day. Both comprise an experience known as “grounding” or “earthing.” Recent research suggests that these tempting life experiences offer more than feel-good frolics; they might help reboot health.
Finding the right bike depends on your purpose and what kind of rider you are. There are bikes for paved roads and speed, rocky terrain and the casual trek to the corner market. The best place to start is with a bike specialist that can explain the pros and cons of each type. Here are a few different types of bikes and their functions: