athletic development and everything related... which means everything
Thursday, December 22, 2011
An intriguing area of focus in sport performance is what is going on at the level of the heart and the autonomic nervous system; the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic control of the heart influincing heart rate variability (HRV). Some of the research points towards low-intensity movement targeting aerobic metabolism as an effective way to increase vagal tone therefore HRV. In the "advanced" world we live in, the first choice seems to be some piece of "cardio" equipment, but I am going to argue (as I have before) something much simpler and potentially more effective; a hike through the forest.
My disdain for these electronic rat wheels runs deep, and I can not figure out why there hasn't been a more holistic push to get athletes (all people included) outside to take care of a little stress and enhance recovery.
Walking through the woods most definitely rids of the useless repetitive stress that occurs on some machine. It also doesn't confine mobility, as anyone who has walked in the woods knows, there's varied size hills to acsend and descend, fallen trees to step over, brush to duck under and slide around, and subtle contours of the forest floor to massage mobility into the foot and ankle... all entangled in the serenity of nature; opening up awareness to a primal sensory experience of flora, fauna, sun, and fresh air. As the Japanese call it, Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing. But this isn't just some alternative medicine hocus pocus, as there is a lot of hard evidence pointing to the powerful effects of nature on human well-being; things like lower cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate, and an increase in HRV... among the myriad of possibilities that lower stress allows in increased mental and physical creativity.