What Are You Reading?

We thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite books that encourage us to get outdoors!  Fun fact: The idea to start Healthy Parks Healthy Person was inspired by some of the concepts in the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.  Here is a short list of some books we have read, and some that are on our to-read list.  We encourage you to visit your local library or support your local bookstore when searching for these.  Feel free to share YOUR favorite nature-based book with us on social media! 

 

A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

 

Balanced & Barefoot, by Angela Hanscom

 

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, Evan McGown

 

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

 

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, by Linda McGurk

 

The Nature Fix, by Florence Williams

 

Vitamin N, by Richard Louv

 

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

12 Exercises of Christmas!

12 Exercises of Christmas

 

Turn up the holiday playlist, put on your ugly Christmas sweater, and get to moving! Staying active is always important to incorporate in your every day life, but is even more important during the holidays! Physical activity increases energy, boosts mood, reduces risk of disease, relieves stress, burns calories, and improves our overall quality of health!

 

Try out this fun “12 Days of Christmas” themed workout!

 

How many rounds will you do?

 

  • 12 Air Squats
  • 11 Jumping Jacks
  • 10 Lunges
  • 9 Glute Bridges (keep that core tight!)
  • 8 Standing Knee to Elbow (each side)
  • 7 Inchworms
  • 6 Mountain Climbers (each leg)
  • 5 Russian Twists (each side)
  • 4 Leg Raises
  • 3 Plank Jacks
  • 2 30 second Planks (you can do them on your elbows or extended)
  • 1 10 minute walk to cool down!

Happy Holidays from Healthy Parks Healthy Person to YOU! We are grateful to have such a supportive and interactive community of people that value the importance of getting active in nature to better one’s  own health, as well as Tennessee’s health.

Fall Wellness Tips!

This fall, as with most of 2020, will probably have a different look than previous fall seasons. With school systems being partially or fully virtual, many people still working from home, events/get-togethers cancelled, and many travel restrictions put in place, this 2020 has been an adjustment to us all. Since the days are getting shorter, the temperature getting cooler, and the stress of this year growing further, it is imperative to keep our wellness in check! What does this mean? Staying healthy, happy, and productive!

 

Here are some tips on how to keep up your health as we being to dive into the cooler months!

 

  • Maintain proper hygiene!
    Requirements for sanitation due to COVID-19 have made everyone do a double take when it comes to sanitizing their home, work, or self. With flu season around the corner as well, it is imperative to be smart and stay clean. Wash your hands with soap often, disinfect the home and frequently touched items regularly, get the flu shot if you can, go for your yearly check up, exercise regularly, eat nutritious meals, and get enough sleep!
  • Foods to boost your immune system! 
    To piggy back off keeping good hygiene to protect your immune system, you also can boost your immune system by eating specific foods. Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes are a great way to get Vitamin C, which is linked to boosting the production of white blood cells! Bell peppers and broccoli are also rich in Vitamin C. Almonds, pumpkin, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are a great for getting Vitamin A.  Try adding green tea, garlic, pomegranates, ginger, spinach, acai berries, and broccoli to your diet to really boost your antioxidant intake! Antioxidants are essential for immune function. Yogurt is a great wat to add probiotics (stimulates immune system) to your diet. You can add it to smoothies, eat on its’ own, or add fruit of granola.
  • Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. 
    Whether it be 10 minutes, 2 hours, or cleaning for 45 minutes – get moving every single day. Make sure to take advantage of the beautiful season of fall for outdoor physical activity. Go for a run, walk, hike, or bike ride. The weather is not too hot, not too cold, and most importantly… no bugs or humidity. Move your indoor circuit OUTDOORS – enjoy the temperatures and the scenery while being active. Trail running is a good way to knock out both cardio and strength while also being in a relaxing setting. The most important thing though, is to get get up and get moving. Make it a point to prioritize a walk or whatever you choose to do on a regular basis. If you are sitting at a desk for most of the day, make sure to get up and walk around every 30 minutes to an hour. It is also much easier to check it off the to-do list when you have already made time for it, whether it be in the morning before work, during your lunch break, or late at night.
  • Eat Seasonally! 
    It is important that you incorporate seasonal foods into your diet as the seasons change and the temperature drops. By eating foods that are in season, and preferably local, you are able to get more nutrients and less preservatives because the produce is picked and harvested the same time it is brought to market. By eating locally grown food, there isn’t a need to add the preservatives, or very few, because the time is shorter from farm to table, compared to the travel time and shelf life of others. Root vegetables like carrots, squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato are great hearty foods that are a great side dish; however, don’t forget your green veggies like spinach, broccoli, kale, and celery. Add in some whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Try to swap your chicken for more fish like cod, salmon, and haddock, which contain more Vitamin D (something we tend to lack in the cooler months). Spice it up with herbs like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, dill, and basil. Switch the summer watermelon and cantaloupe for more citrus fruits, apples, cranberries, and pears. An example of your daily meals could look like an oatmeal breakfast topped with cinnamon, ginger, sliced almonds, chopped apples, and a little bit of honey; lunch: southwest quinoa power bowl; dinner- black bean and corn soup or a chickpea curry with turmeric riceBy consuming seasonally and locally grown foods, you also support your community and lessen the environmental impact from transporting foods long-distance. 
  • Stay Hydrated! 
    As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining body temperature, healthy skin, proper digestion, and protecting the immune system! When the temp drops and the air becomes dry, you typically do not feel as thirsty as you would in the hot summertime, but it is still just as important to consume 90-125oz of water a day! NO ONE likes dry, cracking, or peeling skin. The colder months also typically mean hibernating and usually over-consuming foods. Staying well hydrated will be a key factor in making sure your digesting your foods properly and efficiently. It will also help you feel more energized to get in a workout to counteract binge watching Netflix! If you have trouble drinking water, eating soups, stews, raw veggies, and fruits are also a great source of H2O that will help keep you hydrated. One of the most important reasons to stay hydrated, especially during flu season and now COVID-19, is because dehydration weakens the immune system.
  • Get enough sleep… but not too much. 
    We naturally feel tired earlier when the colder months come around due to shorter daylight time. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you go to bed early, BUT that does not mean sleep 10 hours. You should keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible throughout the whole year.  If you go to bed earlier, make sure to get up earlier as well. Get up on the FIRST alarm, turn on the lights, have a cup of coffee, do a morning stretch, take a walk or whatever you need to get started for the day. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and going to bed and getting up at the same time – even on the weekends. Eating right and regular exercise also play a big part in your energy levels. Avoid all day or afternoon fatigue by staying consistent in eating habits, regular exercise, and bedtime/morning time routines (and not consistently laying on the couch with a bag of chips and dip). Getting as much natural light as you can will also help reduce fatigue – so you should try to go for a walk outdoors every day if possible.
  • Are you getting enough Vitamin D?  
    The “sunshine vitamin” is important for aiding in calcium consumption, bone health and development, and functions in the immune, digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. When you are deficient in Vitamin D, some symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness or cramps, bone pain, and mood changes. One of the best ways to produce Vitamin D is through sunshine. Get outside as much as possible, especially during the colder months! Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, and anchovies are also a great way protein source that is rich in Vitamin D. Incorporating mushrooms and egg yolks are also a good way to sneak in some Vitamin D. Some common foods that have fortified Vitamin D are milk, milk substitutes, certain cereals, orange juice, and yogurt – just make sure to look for it written on the box or carton. Another way would be to take Vitamin D supplements like code liver oil.
  • Try something new! Go apple picking, pumpkin picking, or visit a corn maze. These are great ways to get OUTSIDE, be active, and enjoy the fall weather!
  • Do something every day that makes you happy.
    Whether that be going for a walk, drinking your coffee on the front porch, reading a chapter of a book, eating a piece of chocolate, taking some alone time, or writing down three positive from the day — do it every day. If you want to add something to your routine to make your day brighter.. DO IT. Be intentional about keeping a positive attitude… it truly does boost you overall wellness.

It is so important to keep your mental AND physical health in check this fall. Take a step back, slow down, and think about some changes or improvements you want to make to your wellness.  Be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and do the best you can. Jumping in head first can be overwhelming. Take small steps at a time and check off your goals. It might sound cliché, but “take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”- Jim Rohn. Your body is where you live and you need to treat it as so – this means what you eat, how much you sleep, if you get enough physical activity, and what you do to keep your mental health in check. Get outside, plan out your days, be productive, and FEEL GOOD.


Trail Running 101

Trail running is an excellent way to get in an intense workout while incorporating nature. It is a great alternative to road running. Not only is it a great for cardio, but it is also good for building endurance, strength, and agility… and who doesn’t like great scenery and fresh air while doing so? For one, it adds difficulty to your typical run with fluctuating elevation and natural obstacles, but also the surface is softer than concrete so it has less impact on your joints and with the varying terrain, you increase your speed and strength. For those of you just starting or new to trail running, here are a few tips and recommendations for when you decide to get out on a trail!

 

Let’s Get Started!

 

  • Research the trail.  Every trail is different so it is important to get an idea of what to expect, especially if it’s your first time trail running. Some resources like AllTrails and Tennessee State Park finder websites offer a trail finder so that you can find the right trail for you in your area! Find a map and study what the trail looks like, how long it is, where it goes through, and what other trails it connects to.
  • Determine length (by distance or time). If this is your first trail run, prepare to tire quicker than your normal run. While you might be used to running on the track or paved road, trail running adds terrain and potential obstacles like mud, roots, rocks, and fluctuating elevation. This adds more difficulty than what you might be used to, so consider opting for a trail with shorter distance to get the feel of it first! You could also consider running for time instead of distance at first so that you can further assess how you feel at a certain distance on the trail. This will allow you to determine what kind of pace you would like to keep vs the distance traveled.
  • Send someone the deets. Run with a partner, group, dog, or at the very least, let someone know that you will be going on a trail run. Let them know how long you plan on being on the trail or when you plan on being finished. Make sure to bring your phone, especially if you are alone, just in case something happens, you can call for help.
  • But what should I wear? Wearing your usual running clothes (preferably moisture-wicking material) will work just fine for trail running, but be prepared to possibly get them dirty just in case. As for your shoes, as a beginner, you will want to have something with good tread. After your first few trail runs, if you decide you would like to continue, then you should invest in some trail running shoes. They are typically a little beefier, with more tread than the normal running shoe, giving it more stability and protection. You also should consider wearing an insect repellent and even sunscreen if you know that a portion of the trail is uncovered and in the open.
  • What should I bring? What you bring really depends on how long you plan your trail run to be. If you plan on being out an hour/hour and a half, at the very least, bring water. It is always handy to carry a small, lightweight first aid kid or pocketknife.  If you are planning on going for a few hours, you should take a small bag or waist-pack to carry some water (whether it be handheld, hydration pack, etc.), small first aid kit, snack (granola bar, gels, chews, etc), and map of the trail.
  • Warm up before going on the run. Listen to your body and prevent injuries! Before going for your run you can warm up by doing some arm circles, leg swings, walk around on your toes (wake up those Achilles), hop in place, walking lunges, heel to butt, knee to chest, and start off with a jog.
  • Take it step by step. If you feel uncomfortable running uphill, through mud, or across rocks, don’t be afraid to just walk through it. You will build confidence the more you are out running the trails and this will take time! It can also be very tempting to look around at the beautiful nature surrounding you; however, it is important to keep your eyes on the trail. You will be in the wild so keeping an eye out for roots, sudden drops, or even snakes will be very important to avoid injury! That being said, it is best to look about 10ft in front of you, instead of straight down, that way you will see what is coming.
  • Trail Etiquette: only run on designated trails;  respect wildlife – do not disturb animals or nature; don’t litter – if you brought it in, you can bring it out; share the trail – when coming up on someone, make sure to let them know you are there by saying something like “on your left” or “hello” so that you do not startle them; if coming across a biker or horseback rider, the hiker yields to them; the uphill hiker has the right away vs. the downhill hiker;  keep your dog on a leash unless the area allows unleashed dogs;
  • Safety tips: always follow proper trail etiquette and park guidelines to avoid injury or getting lost; know what the dangers are in your area; learn about bear safety; know what to expect when encountering a snake and snake safety; wear bright colors if it is hunting season; Know your limits – if you need a break, take a break;  always check the weather radar; always carry more water than you think you need

Remember, go at your own pace. It might take a few runs to get your routine down on how far you want to go, how intense, what to bring, or what shoes to wear, but all you need to do is START! And most importantly, have fun and stay safe on the trails!

Summer Safety Tips 101

Summer will be here before we know it! While this summer might look a little different than previous summers due to COVID-19, there are still many outdoor activity days ahead! You still need to follow the guide lines and regulations for COVID-19 like avoiding traveling when not necessary, washing your hands frequently, wearing a face-mask in public, and keeping 6 feet apart; however, there are still ways to social distance while enjoying the summer! Tennessee is absolutely beautiful and should be explored, so when you do, here are few things you should keep in mind when heading out!

 

Sun Protection. Sun Protection. SUN PROTECTION.

 

The summer usually brings people outdoors, so protecting your skin from sun damage is super important! Wear sunscreen and sunglasses folks. Cover up using lightweight, breathable clothing, stay in the shade, and plan around the sun as much as possible! Practice wearing at least 15 SPF sunscreen (shoot for 15-50+ SPF). It protects you from UV rays, prevents skin coloration and premature aging, and most importantly, reduces your chances of skin cancer (which is one of the most common cancers in the US). Just because you do not burn easily DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE IMMUNE TO SUN DAMAGE. Everyone is at risk, so make sure to apply it every two hours when outdoors, especially on your kids! Don’t forget to put it on your ears and lips – they can burn too!

 

Staying Hydrated

 

Summer brings the heat and humidity, especially in Tennessee. Staying hydrated during this time is so important! Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated! Make sure to drink water BEFORE feeling thirsty, so keeping a bottle of water with you will help encourage you to drink regularly, especially if you’re out in the sun. Create a water drinking schedule if you think that will help or eat H2O packed foods like celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and grapefruit. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion or a heat stroke, so make sure to take it seriously!

 

Heat Exhaustion

 

Stay cool, heat exhaustion is no joke! This happens when your body is overheated and has lost an excessive amount of water and salt due to sweating. This is why it is important to stay hydrated, take breaks during physical activity outdoors, and make sure to not leave anyone (or your pets) in a car. If you see someone or an animal in a hot car, immediately call 911. When heat exhaustion occurs, the symptoms/signs typically will be feeling weak, nauseous, moist skin, muscle cramps, headache, and have a rapid heart rate. If this happens, the best thing to do is move the person into shade, give them water, and cool them down with damp cloths. If not treated, heat exhaustion can turn into a heat stroke, which would need immediate medical attention. When this occurs, the person will have a body temperature above 103 degrees, dry and flushed skin, confusion, rapid breathing, and convulsions/unresponsiveness. If you think someone is having a heat stroke, call 911, move them to cool place, and remove unnecessary clothing. Heat exhaustion can affect any and all ages so everyone needs to make sure to stay hydrated and cooled down in the hot summer sun.

 

Water Safety

 

Swimming during the summer is one of the best ways to have fun and cool off from the hot sun, whether it be a pool, lake, or river. Before going swimming, especially with children, you need to know about water safety. You and/or your children should learn water safety and swimming skills as soon as possible.  If you have your own pool, it would be best to put up some safety precautions like having a fence around the pool, keeping flotation devices near the pool, install drain covers, and have proper “no diving” signage. If your child is swimming, make sure to keep your eye on them, EVEN if they know how to swim (lifeguards are not babysitters). You should never swim alone and also should not leave your child unattended while swimming, even if it is for a couple of minutes. Drownings can occur at any age, but the younger, the greater the risk. They are also usually quiet, unlike in movies where you hear yelling and splashing. Never dive in a shallow area or in an area that you are unsure of the depth. You should learn  CPR and basic rescue skills just in case you are around when a drowning occurs. Taking the boat out is also a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. Each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to public waters so make sure to learn about boating safety and swimming around boats before you get out on the water! Children 12 years old and younger MUST wear a personal flotation device that is a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket while on the open deck of any boat and ALL vessels must have an approved life jacket for EVERY person on board, no matter the age. If you are swimming in natural water (ocean, river, etc.) and get caught in a current, you would need to stay calm and not fight it, just float with it or swim parallel to shore. Having fun in water can be one of the best experiences, but even the best swimmer can make a mistake, so knowing some water safety skills is imperative!

 

Bites and Stings

 

No one is a fan of being stung or bit by an insect, so what do you need to watch out for if you do? Mosquito bites themselves do not particularly hurt; however, mosquitoes can carry and spread the Zika virus and West Nile virus to other people through biting. Ticks also can pass along Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and the Alpha-gal red meat allergy. Specifically, the red meat allergy comes from the bite of a Lone Star tick which has a white dot on its back. This does NOT mean that you will contract these diseases from every mosquito or tick bite, but it is something that you should be aware of and watch for if you or your family member does get bit. Make sure to check yourself for ticks after exploring the outdoors. If you do find a tick on yourself or family member, use tweezers to take the tick off. When going outdoors, make sure to wear an insect repellent (preferably one that contains DEET). Wear light colored clothing, long sleeved shirts, or long pants when possible. Avoid walking barefoot; this makes it easy for ticks to crawl on you or for you to get stung by a bee or wasp. If you do happen to get stung, remove the stinger using gauze to wipe over the area or by scraping a fingernail over the area, wash the the area with soap and water, and put an ice-pack on the area if it begins to swell. If know you are allergic to a bee or wasp, be prepared and carry an EpiPen (Epinephrine auto injector). If someone allergic around you does get stung, immediately call 911, administer the EpiPen if available, be prepared to give CPR if necessary while waiting for EMS.

 

The summer is one of the best seasons, especially for the kids on summer break! Have fun and explore the great outdoors while staying safe!

Resources

Healthy Parks Healthy Person TN does not want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to taking care of your health.  There are plenty of people who have already worked hard to bring you resources to improve your health.  Here are just a few that you might find useful:

 

What Do I Do Now?….. Quarantine Style

Many of us are going on a few weeks of quarantining at home due to COVID-19. I am sure you have been able to catch up on all your favorite TV shows, clean the house for the hundredth time, or have attempted to keep the kids occupied while they are out of school. This post is here to help you stay positive and spark some interest in you all who have found yourselves bored, tired, unmotivated or  depressed since being quarantined. It is time to switch it up, try something new, learn a new skill, find different ways to boost your mood, and/or educate your kids.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” 

-Maya Angelou

 Stay Positive

 

  • Positive gratitude… Instead of focusing on what you currently can’t do, where you can’t go, or who you can’t see, focus on what you do have. Be grateful that you are able to get up each morning, that you have the ability to go outside, that you have a healthy family, that you are able to feed yourself and/or family, that you have a home, that you still have a job, or whatever it may be. BE GRATEFUL. In these hard times, we need to focus on the GOOD, not the bad or what we cannot control.
  • Keep a Routine… Though your normal, pre-quartantine routine has most likely been changed, you can create a new one for the time being. Remember that our current situation is temporary, but it is our new “normal” for now. Keeping a routine will help you feel more in control, less stressed and also help clear your head. Set a time to get up, to eat, to workout, to work, to watch your show (not all day), to play, to teach the kids or however you want your day to go! Create a schedule and stick to it! It will help!
  • Focus on the long term instead of short term…  Make goals for when we no longer have to be homebound. Reflect on yourself and determine what you really want in the next few months and/or years. Come up with a list that you want to accomplish in a month, 6 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. These can be as simple as “go to a state park at least 2 times a month” or as ambitious as “become the CEO of the company by…”. By creating these goals, you are able to escape our current situation and focus on what you want your future to hold and determine HOW to get there.
  • Surround yourself with positive people… Due to the current regulations to minimize travel and to encourage social distancing, do not physically go to other people’s houses or meet up. Instead, call them, Face time, Message, or use Zoom to contact them. Let your friends and family know that you are thankful for them. Having people in your life that can brighten your day (especially under current circumstances) or help escape the negativity that is broadcasted every day will help alleviate the anxiety, anger, loneliness, or just boredom that you might be feeling.  There is already so much going on in the world that you don’t need to have someone else bringing you down or making you feel even worse than before. On that note, YOU also do not want to be that negative person in someone else’ life. Be grateful and pass that optimism along to the next person.
  • When in doubt, listen to music that brightens your mood… Music is a powerful tool that can help turn your mood around. It is perfect to have playing when you’re cleaning, working out, cooking, dancing or playing with your kids outside.

What To Do When You’re All Out Of Ideas

 

  • Exercise physically and mentally… THIS. IS. A. MUST. For one, you are most likely way less active than you were pre-quarantine so you could most definitely use the movement right now. Secondly, exercising is a stress reliever and for some, a normal routine. Just because gyms are closed DOES NOT mean you cannot get in a good work out. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out some of these online classes for home workoutsHIIT workouts, YogaBoxingDancing or Stretching! If you can’t get yourself motivated to do a workout then aim for at least 30 minutes of MOVEMENT a day. This doesn’t mean you have to do burpees, but maybe 30 minutes of cleaning around the house, stretching, gardening, or a short walk around the neighborhood. Just get moving!!!
  • Fun family activities… backyard camping, backyard drive-in, bird watch, reading bingo, card games, board games (teach them chess, dominoes, and checkers), obstacle courses, charades, perform experiments instructed by Bill Nye the science guy, explore the Smithsonian resources , make your own hand soap, work on fine motor skills, make slime, explore outdoors
  • Jump back into or develop a new skill or hobby
    • Take up gardening, journaling, cross stitching, whittling, make a vision board, learn another language, work on a puzzle, get back into painting, try candle-making, crochet a blanket, cook those recipes you have been waiting to try, make a loaf of bread, learn to juggle
  • Have you organized the Tupperware and junk drawer/closet yet?… Maybe it is time to finally check that off the list!

During this time of uncertainty, keeping a positive, active mind and body are imperative. Make sure to limit the amount of time you spend on social media or watching the news. This will just cause more anxiety and is unnecessary. Have a routine to keep some normality in your/your families life. Try out some of these ideas out! At the very least, it will get you off the couch and trying something different!