Water. Our bodies are 60% water. We can only survive three days without it and that requires a constant replenishment of it, especially on hot summer days. Water is also a powerful tool in our recovery process during and after exercising. In addition to consuming it, soaking in a hot bath or jacuzzi (with or without Epsom salts) helps reduce stress, and can help with releasing tight muscles. And a cold bath, and/or ice is used to reduce pain and inflammation.
In my CirqularX 365 medicine wheel wellness philosophy, water is the element of the summer season, and the color is turquoise blue. This element may be an important part of wellness from the inside out, but don’t forget it can be a fun part of an exercise program.
Incorporate water into your workouts by replacing a traditional cardio session with swimming laps or water aerobics at a local community pool – perhaps at the new one in our neighborhood at Hearst Elementary. The benefits of swimming are complete: cardiovascular health, joint mobility as well as joint support (buoyancy of water = less stress on the joints), and full body strength and endurance. Some gyms have pools, and many now offer hydromassage beds for a 10-minute post-exercise massage. I love this recovery tool so much I’d join a gym for this feature alone!Steam and saunas are also popular R&R tools available in many gyms.
Another water-based activity is kayaking. Its benefits are similar to swimming with additional core strengthening, balance, and mental health benefits releasing serotonin, dopamine and endorphins or “feel good hormones.” Canoeing can also bring similar benefits.
Hiking allows you to connect with nature and spend time near water sources - waterfalls, creeks, rushes, canals, rivers, ponds, lakes, seas or oceans - and it is good for the soul and uplifting for the spirit. Soaking your feet in a cold stream on a long hike is the best! Hiking with friends and family is not only good for our physical body, it is wonderful for one’s social life, enhancing mental health as well social connections (keys to our longevity).
Author of the book Blue Mind, Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, marine scientist stated: "Not long ago the idea that health practitioners would recommend a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, exercise and stress reduction as part of a healthy lifestyle seemed on the fringe or alternative, but now it is standard practice. The same is happening with recommendations that people engage in places with water sources in nature and particularly blue space for people's well-being.”
Similar to Forest Bathing, as discussed in the July issue, Blue Spaces offer open awareness, visual exposure to breathtaking expansive views, and the relaxing sound of waves. The atmosphere of a hidden waterfall expands the mind, and the natural environment helps to reduce stress, down-regulating our nervous system and calming our body.
Cleveland Park offers access to hiking trails and water with Rock Creek and the many tributaries that feed it run through many of our yards. A walk or jog south brings us to the Potomac River and Tidal Basin, and a 90-minute drive allows us to explore trails, rivers and waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. Enjoy the last days of summer and fill up with a fresh perspective near your favorite water source.