As the heat and humidity start to break, now is the perfect time to get outside to do your physical therapy exercises! We often think of physical therapy as an indoor activity due to equipment requirements or the need to sit or lie down, but getting a little fresh air can heal your mind as well as your body and may even speed up the therapy process. Studies show that outdoor exercise engages your brain more fully in physical activity, which in turn can allow you to complete your exercises more effectively.
How do you get started? It’s not as hard as you might think! Use some of these ideas to get you out of the house and get your brain involved in your physical therapy:
Find a local park where you can walk. Many people find that it’s much easier to walk outside, where you can enjoy a change of scenery than it is to use a treadmill every day. Walking outdoors stimulates the processing centers in your brain and also creates a slightly more challenging environment that can improve your balance. Going for a walk is also an excellent opportunity to invite a friend and make the walk into a social outing, turning your walk into an event you look forward to rather than a chore.
Take advantage of outdoor workout equipment. Many city parks feature “fitness walks” that include equipment at regular intervals that can be used to perform your physical therapy exercises. Walking from one piece of equipment to another keeps your heart rate up as well, making even relatively simple, stationary therapeutic exercises a part of your cardio workout! Visit Charlottesville’s Pen Park fitness trail for a change in your exercise routine.
Use your front porch for more than just sitting. Even if you can’t get to a park, you can use your own front porch or apartment patio as a place to perform your exercises. Try using the railing to help keep your balance, or tie your rubber band to the balusters. Make sure to bring your equipment in when you are done so that rain and sun won’t damage it.
Bring a blanket or a pad so you can exercise anywhere. Some exercises need to be done while lying down. Bring an exercise mat, yoga mat, or a blanket with you and spread it out under your favorite tree or next to a lake or creek and enjoy the great outdoors. If you work away from home, pack your mat, and use it in an outdoor break area to fit in exercise on your lunch break. You may find that a little exercise during lunch will energize and refresh you and make it easier to tackle the second half of your workday.
Play on the playground. Many apartment complexes and neighborhoods have a playground area with playsets and swings built on a relatively level surface. Use the slide as support for stretches and balance activities. Bring your rubber band and your blanket or mat and perform your entire routine in the sunshine. When you’re done, you can even celebrate by sliding down the slide or swinging on the swings.
No matter where you like to do your exercises, don’t be afraid to try something new and get outside. In addition to getting stronger and improving your balance, you can stimulate your mind and get brainer, too! Our experienced and knowledgeable physical therapists are ready to help guide your return to exercise – let us help you Move Better! Contact Move Better Physical Therapy or call us at 434-817-0980 to schedule an appointment or speak with one of our board-certified orthopedic specialty-trained physical therapists today.