Monday, February 15, 2021

For Better Health During the Pandemic, Is Two Hours Outdoors the New 10,000 Steps? (WSJ)

 The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently published an article pointing to the benefits of getting out in nature, citing my favorite subject of Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing), and some new data points from Stanford University and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. 

Some interesting insights:

  • Spending time in the woods is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue. It also increases the presence of cancer-fighting cells.
  • Time in a forest is linked to decreased inflammation, which has been implicated in chronic disease.
  • Spending 120+ minutes/week in nature increases a sense of good health and well-being, with peak feelings kicking in at 200-300 minutes per week.
  • You don't have to get deep in the backcountry - A 45-minute walk in nature can make a world of difference to mood, creativity, the ability to use your working memory.
All good stuff!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Happy 2021! Can We Race Now, Please? ;-)

Happy 2021, everyone! I hope this blog entry finds you well, and looking forward to the new year. Although a fresh calendar doesn't magically reset our respective realities, it's nice to have a mental construct to pack up 2020 and put it in the rear view mirror. Auf Weidersehen, zwanzig zwanzig!

(Our newest family member and recovery coach, Moose)

I remain with my girls hunkered down here in Linz, Austria, on government lockdown #3 until Jan 6th 18th 25th (is it lockdown #3? I'm losing track...). In the Austrian version of "lockdown", we are only allowed to leave our home with masks for essential trips, such as groceries, pharmacy, exercise (thank god), and dog walking. Then you come home, give yourself a Silkwood shower, and cry into your beer with fingers crossed for a few minutes, hoping you didn't just condemn yourself for two months on a ventilator just for coffee creamer. We are the singing caged birds, however, cheerful to have avoided the spread of COVID that has reached our closest neighbors, and many friends and coworkers. The vaccines are rolling out too, so there is finally a path out of this dark cave, as rocky as it may be. 

So....does that mean....can I even say it out loud...the 2021 race calendar is a go? For the first time in months, I think the answer is yes. A few early year cancellations and geographic exceptions, of course, but a firm YES! I know I'm an optimist, but the facts are lining up nicely here too. I will allow myself to un-hunch the shoulders, and breathe a sigh of relief enough to plan again. 

(I did manage one race in September, 2020, the adidas Innsbruck Trail Marathon, which was a lot of fun!)

Thanks to all of the COVID race rescheduling, my current 2021 summer race calendar looks like a the perfect recipe for an Overcommitment Omelette. I can likely make the most of the next two months to be ready for the Transgrancanaria 129k in late February, thanks to staying committed to fitness through the winter. But then there is the Mozart 100 in mid June, followed the next weekend by the adidas Infinite Trails 90k, followed the next weekend by Ironman Austria, and then the Alpe D'Huez long distance triathlon. The 38-year-old me probably could have managed with some Aleve and frequent massages, but at 51, my "experienced" hamstrings seize up just reading the calendar. 

Yet thanks to missing so much racing in 2020, I just can't get myself to cancel any of these races. This was supposed to be part of the adventure of moving to Austria, you know? Do all the European racing you can, now that they are all local races? And with one year "taken away", how much time do I have to do these? ONE SUMMER TO RULE THEM ALL! (ha, ha)

Hmmm....well, what would you do? 

One thing for sure, it's going to be a lot of fun. I think I'll lace up right now. ;-)

See you on the trails!

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