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5 Athletic Activities With Major Gains, Mentally and Spiritually!

I don’t know about you but I like to get the most bang for my buck when it comes to how I spend my time! That’s why it’s so important to me to find athletic activities that not only provide a work out but also have additional benefits. Check out these 5 activities with major gains!

Dancing

I often say that if you don’t dance it is because a part of your soul died! Have you ever seen a baby or small child who doesn’t dance when they hear music??? NO! That’s because it’s innate to us as a species. So don’t try to say that you just don’t dance! You used too! You just made yourself stop! If you don’t dance it’s probably because you’re self conscious. You might need to get over yourself. If the judgement of others is keeping you from dancing I’ll bet it’s keeping you from doing other things as well. Likely things you would love and that would greatly enrich your life.

Release fear of judgment

Here’s the thing to learn… those on the dance floor are too busy dancing to judge you and those sitting have no room to judge! If you aren’t brave enough to get out there then you don’t get to judge! This is true in every aspect of your life! As the saying goes… the only people judging you are those who aren’t doing the work. If they were doing the work they would be too busy to judge! Why do you care what they think?!?!

Stress Relief

Not only does dancing make you get over the judgement of others and help you to not take yourself so seriously it is also a stress reliever. No one can be stressed about life’s mishaps and challenges while dancing! It is just impossible! You can dance off whatever ails you and then move on with your day or get a restful night’s sleep!

Hiking

Few things are better for your health than getting out in nature! Recent research shows that time spent in nature drastically improves mood and over all brain health.

Keep it simple

I think a lot of people over complicate the idea of hiking. Basically what we’re talking about here is going for a walk in nature! It’s best to do this au natural. Meaning, leave the headphones and other tech at home (aside from a compass if you need it). Spend some time with your own thoughts. It boosts your creativity and relieves stress to head outside and go for a hike.

Commune with Nature

Your soul needs to commune with nature. It provides you with a sense of peace and purpose which are imperative to living a healthy, happy life. Not only that but spending time in nature creates a spirit of gratitude. This makes you more likely to be a good steward and take care of the earth. It also makes you more aware of all of the small things in your life you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is the key to a long and healthy life.

What are you waiting for… lace up your hiking boots and get out there!

Running

UGH!!! I put running in here because I know it’s true but that doesn’t mean that I like it! I’m not a runner and for those of you who aren’t dancers I guess you can say it’s because a part of my soul has died. I just don’t get it. Here’s what I know about running though and why you should try it.

Heatlh and freedom

Running has amazing health benefits. It is great for your cardiovascular system and your brain. Not only does it have these effects but it contributes to a feeling of freedom. And it creates a meditative state. The rhythm of it is almost hypnotic. Many people report that they do their best thinking and problem solving while running that that it helps alleviate stress.

Runner’s High

The other major benefit to running it the “runner’s high” we’ve all heard of. It used to be believed that this was caused by the endorphins that are produced when you run. But, because endorphins are large they can’t cross the blood brain barrier and actually only act on your body below the neck. The real cause of runners high is the increased production of endocannabinoids. These combine with other enzymes in the body to create a euphoric feeling.

What an amazing set of perks running has! You get all of that stress relief, meditation and freedom along with a euphoric feeling! I just might have to try it!

Yoga

I’ll bet this is the first thing you thought of when you saw the title of this post! The many benefits of yoga seem to be well known! Of course yoga has all sorts of other gains and YES it is real exercise!

Connect with your body

Yoga helps you to connect to your body in ways that no other activity can. You are fully aware of every inch of your body not only during yoga but after. This creates all sorts of amazing benefits. The one I think most people are somewhat aware of is that it changes how you treat your body.

Nutritional benefits

I don’t think I’ve ever met an overweight yogi or one on a diet. It was once explained to me that doing yoga increases a person’s awareness of their body. When you are more aware you are more empowered to make healthy choices. They don’t work to stop eating junk food or start eating healthy. Yogi’s simply feel it. They feel the difference in their bodies when they are well nourished and naturally gravitate towards that.

Feeling Zen

Yoga also creates a sense of well-being that lasts long after you leave your mat. I usually refer to this as a “Zen” feeling. The sense of peace and well-being that you experience after a yoga session is like nothing else. This is partly because of the focused attention on connection to the breath. It is also because of all of the strange bendy positions your body is in. Trauma, stress, pain and fear are all stored in your body, not just your brain. By stretching and contorting your body you allow your muscles to release these things. Between that and the breathing you create a meditative state. Nothing is better for your body, mind or spirit than meditation.

One of the best things about yoga is that you literally need no equipment. Get barefoot in the grass and start moving. There are countless free yoga classes on Youtube. Start today!

Golf

This one, I’m sure you will argue, is not exercise! But, golf, with a cart, burns about 250 calories per hour (similar to dancing and hiking). I know… crazy! The big thing about golf though is that it has SO many intangible gains!

Perfectionism recovery

I took up golf because I’m a recovering perfectionist and control freak. You can’t play golf if you don’t give up your perfectionism! You will be terrible at golf when you start playing. And no matter how long you play you will sometimes play far beneath your ability (including Tiger). You will NEVER feel like you have mastered golf and are doing it perfectly. If you play you quickly learn to give yourself grace. You learn that some days are better than others. There simply is no perfect in golf (maybe 1 or 2 shots per round goes exactly as I hope).

Let it go

These are the things you have control over regarding golf conditions… NOTHING! You might be able to show up well rested with a full set of clubs and proper shoes but you could end up with any type of conditions. It could start raining half way through your round. The course might be soaked. Maybe there are tons of people there and you get paired with complete strangers. Really, when it comes to golf, anything can happen. Don’t forget, most golf courses are planted right in the middle of nature. You get a lot of the awesome nature benefits of hiking. And, you also get all of the unpredictable behavior of wildlife. Groundhogs, squirrels, deer and geese are commonly interfering with play and if you’re anywhere in the south you have to worry about gaters too. Believe me when you play golf, you are NOT in control so you need to learn to let things go!

Relationship improvement

For bonus perks on the golf front, go with your partner or someone you’re close to. How responsible do you feel for their frustrations? How competitive are you? You’re about to find out very quickly what kinds of unhealthy habits you have in your relationship. It took me 3 years of golfing with my husband to stop getting completely thrown off by his golf struggles and successes. It has created growth in our relationship that I never expected.

Golf can be a cost prohibitive sport but it’s worth the investment of both time and money. You can check out golf by heading to your local golf supply store and trying out some clubs on their driving range. You can also rent clubs at most golf courses. If you are serious about wanting to pursue the benefits of golf though you should sign up for a few lessons and give it a try in earnest.

Get the most out of your workouts

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A lot of people think that working out needs to be drudgery. They think it can’t be fun and it can’t have extra perks. That simply isn’t true. You should be getting the most out of your work outs! You should be getting not only physical gains but emotional and spiritual gains as well. These certainly aren’t the only activities that provide that. I would bet that I can come up with some additional gains for any activity you can name. So, when you’re frustrated or you feel like your workouts aren’t paying off, think about all of the other areas of your well-being that are benefiting from your activity! And, think about ways to add the activities in this post into your life and reap the rewards!

Comment below and tell us your favorite athletic activity and its surprising gains! Don’t forget to share this post with family and friends! Encourage those you love to exercise for a long, healthy life. And, help them get the most out of their workouts!

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Posted in Exercise, Health & Wellness, Outdoors, Wellness

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