May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and it's time to get outside and get your heart pumping! Most people don't fully appreciate the concept of exercising until later in life, but it's important to remember that physical activity is most important during childhood and adolescence. It's fundamental to a child's physical, emotional, and psychological growth that they remain active and experience life outside. Video games can be a fine release once in a while, but parents should take care to push their children to experience the best of both the indoors and outdoors.
In adults, some of the biggest killers in the United States are heart disease and stroke. Exercising regularly and throughout life can help decrease the chances of both greatly, in addition to reducing the risk of an entire catalog of other diseases and illnesses. Not surprisingly, increased physical fitness has also been shown to be closely associated with cognitive abilities later in life. The more physically fit you are, the greater the chance you'll hold onto your mental faculties a lot longer than you would otherwise.
One of the best activities you can use to strengthen your body is swimming. It's one of the few workouts that affect nearly every muscle in the human body, and helps provide phenomenal lung capacity and cardiovascular endurance. Strength training is all well and good, but at the end of the day you should be looking to make your heart stronger, not your biceps. This is a great month to consider going for a kayaking trip, as the weather is just starting to get warmer.
Another activity you might consider doing to get you outdoors is hiking or camping. Simply being exposed to the scent of the wilderness has been known to stimulate the production of endorphins, which lead you to be more emotionally satisfied and psychologically healthier and happier. In addition, you'll find that hiking will also leave you with enhanced endurance. It provides a great ego boost when you're with your friends. If you're in the mood for an adventure, get yourself a tent and other supplies and go enjoy the great outdoors.
National physical fitness and sports month is a great opportunity for those of us who are inherent couch potatoes to motivate ourselves to do just a little bit more for our bodies. The first step is the hardest, but exercise is an addictive phenomenon once you're in the habit. Get outside, go for a jog, do some hiking, go for a swim. Whatever you do, just get away from the city, find a quiet nook of the countryside, and have yourself some fun!