The days are shorter, leaves are starting to turn and there’s a chill in the air. Fall is here! Cooler autumn days are an invitation to get outside, enjoy the abundant color and move our bodies. Spending time outside, surrounded by many forms of God’s creation also has health benefits and can help us move forward with our health goals. Here are my favorite ways to move my body outdoors during this season of change.
Walking is one of the easiest and best ways to move our bodies. You only need a decent pair of shoes and to make the time to do it. I like to hit the trails, in the woods, along a river, around a lake or even around my acreage. Walking in the woods, under the canopy of trees, allows me to connect with God and makes me feel safe moving forward.
Over the years, I’ve learned to slow down & walk slower. Partly due to issues with plantar fasciitis when I walk too fast and partly due to savoring all the awe & wonder that surrounds me. Not only are the trees sporting new colors, vines crawling up their trunks, and other undergrowth are too! Slowing down, I can hear the different birds, crickets, frogs, locusts singing their melodies. Sometimes even the rustling of a rabbit or ground squirrel scurrying nearby in the underbrush.
I started bicycling a few years ago, when my feet hurt too much to go for walks any more. Traveling faster, I discovered more trails and connections as well as little nooks & crannies throughout the Cedar Valley. I’ve even taken my bike to Des Moines when I’ve had to stay for workshops & conferences. Giving me opportunities to view the Des Moines & Raccoon Rivers up close & personal, rather than just passing over them on the interstate.
Bicycling does take some extra planning and a little more work, but it’s also been empowering. I’ve learned how to fix flat tires, adjust the brakes and change gears to help me go with the flow. Pedaling uses different muscles and I get to cover more ground at one time. Feeling the wind blowing across my face as I race over the trail reminds me that God always provides ways to move forward with grace & ease.
House & Yard Work
Totally fessing here. I sometimes still feel guilty about taking time to move my body, especially if there’s no ‘purpose’ other than to move my body. I do make sure I make time to move my body every day, but when I can do it by cleaning floors, washing windows, weed-eating or other house & yard work, I feel a sense of accomplishment, too. We still have plenty of projects to cross off our to-do list before the snow flies. Most of these tasks are a great way to move my body outside the house.
Yard work can also be a good opportunity to socialize and help our neighbors. Since the pandemic hit, our real-life social interactions have been drastically reduced. This is especially true for the elderly and those with health issues, leading to feelings of isolation & loneliness. By offering to rake someone else’s leaves or clean up their yard, we not only get a great workout, but we are also extending God’s love to those who are more isolated while maintaining social distancing.
And on days when the weather prevents me from actually getting outside, I turn to YouTube. There’s thousands of yoga, aerobics & qi-gong videos filmed outside, in nature, that allow me to move my body in a variety of ways. I like to do these videos in front of my big picture window, where I can take in as much of God’s creation as possible while staying warm & dry.
Moving my body like this also allows me to explore other natural places beyond rural Iowa. A few natural wonders I’ve encountered with YouTube videos are: Joshua Tree National Park, giant red woods, lush Asian gardens, oceans, mountains and more! It makes me appreciate the abundant technology keeping us all connected.
Enjoying the Outside
Whether you’re walking, biking, working or playing outside this fall, I have one final piece of advice – enjoy it! Take in the marvels all around you. Delight in the miracles God is showering you with, the vibrant colors he paints for us. Laugh with the birds, the crickets and the frogs. Let the awe & wonder of this amazing life God blessed you with bubble up and consume you as you enjoy the journey!