Physical therapy is commonly perceived as something people only do while they are recovering from injury or surgery. Not so! Although physical therapy does indeed restore health, it is just as practical for promoting and maintaining it. In other words, if you can move, then you only stand to gain by exercising.

 

No matter the current state of your health, exercise can help you live a longer, more comfortable and more productive life. That’s because physical activity:

 

  • Improves memory. According to a recent study, cognitive decline is almost twice as common in inactive adults versus ones who exercise regularly.
  • Improves mood. Exercise stimulates the production of natural “feel good” hormones that can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Increases strength. You no doubt already understand exercise’s connection to physical strength. Your goal doesn’t have to be benching 500 pounds, though. You may just want to make sure you can carry a gallon of milk up the stairs when you’re 80 years old.
  • Strengthens bones. Exercise doesn’t merely change your muscles for the better. It can also naturally fortify your bones, thus reducing your risk of fractures as you grow older.
  • Prevents disease. In addition to combating obesity, exercise helps your body utilize glucose and insulin more effectively – the reason why it can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is also known to reduce the risk of 13 types of cancer.

 

That’s only scratching the surface of physical therapy’s potential health benefits. And we have even better news: now that it’s spring, the weather will let you get out there and start moving around far more often. Here are five exercises you can easily enjoy outdoors this spring!

 

Walking

 

Let’s begin with the most accessible exercise on the planet: casually strolling around. Although it may not feel like “working out” per se, walking is associated with every known health benefit of exercise. In addition to those detailed above, that includes reduced blood pressure and risk of heart disease, increased energy and endurance, improved balance and coordination, and a stronger immune system.

 

Farmer’s Walk

 

Now that we’ve covered regular walking (which we’ll refrain from explaining too much), let’s move on to a great resistance-training exercise that increases strength, endurance and cardiovascular health: the farmer’s walk.

 

The farmer’s walk is so simple that even a non-farmer can do it. All you need are two dumbbells (any weight you’re comfortable with) and enough space to walk at least 10 steps in a straight line. Place the dumbbells on either side of your body. Bend down with your hips and knees, grab each dumbbell, and rise without bending your spine. Walk at least 10 paces, keeping each dumbbell at your side with your shoulders back. Once you have reached your desired distance, bring the dumbbells to the ground while keeping your core tight and your spine neutral. Rest, repeat, and finish once you’ve achieved your desired number of reps.

 

Lunge

 

This beginner exercise can be performed with or without weights. Either way, lunges will strengthen every muscle from your hips downward. Begin by standing with your right foot placed 2 to 3 feet in front of your left. Keep your torso straight, your shoulders back, your core tight, your weight evenly distributed, and your hands on your hips as you lower your left knee until it’s a few inches from the floor (or ground, if you’re outdoors). Rise and repeat as desired, taking care to regularly switch your stance so you’re lowering your right knee just as often as the left.

 

Plank

 

Let’s tone up those abdominal and all-important core muscles next! Begin lying face down, with your toes and forearms facing the floor. Without bending your spine or raising your shoulders, lift your torso so your balls of your feet, forearms and palms are the only parts of your body still touching your floor. Maintain this elevated position for 10 seconds. Release, rest, and repeat as desired.

 

Yardwork

 

That’s right! According to the CDC, yardwork is officially exercise. Every minute you spend mowing, raking, weeding and gardening is certain to engage virtually every muscle group in your body – the reason why 30 minutes of yardwork can burn as many as 300 calories.

 

Take care to treat yardwork just like you would any other form of exercise: stretch beforehand, alternate between lighter and heavier activities, and cool down with a low-impact chore toward the end of your “routine.” It’s a perfect way to get your lawn and your body in shape this spring!

 

Have you chosen this spring to become a happier, healthier you? Then Acucare Physical Therapy is standing by to help you realize all the benefits of physiotherapy! We welcome you to contact our clinic in Sioux Falls, SD today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced physical therapists. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or just trying to live a more active and rewarding lifestyle, we will tailor the perfect exercise regimen for your goals!