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Outdoor Fitness: The Heart of What We Do

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Point to Ponder:

How much time to you spend outdoors each day?

When living in San Diego one observation I consistently witnessed was how perfectly entertained and content my kids (Durant and Malaine) were when we went to the beach. Hours at a time were spent boogie boarding, running from waves, throwing balls and digging ginormous pits in the sand that would eventually be eaten up by the waves—to then start all over again. Time... after time… after time I watched them play in the water and on the beach, and each time I’d have the same reaction and think: "Why do I give them crap toys or crap technology when all they need is nature, some dirt, a few balls, snacks and they’re good to go, for HOURS upon end. As it does for all of us, the energy from the ocean is both stimulating and relaxing. There’s not a lot of places that appeal perfectly to all ages and genders, but the ocean does, like most bodies of water and nature in general.

While at the ocean, the other feelings I consistently had were that of both insignificance and significance. The ocean is massive and fierce and one wave can take anyone out and under in a second. When comparing the strength and power of the ocean to that of a human, there is no comparison. The ocean is infinitely superior. However, I always feel significant because I am reminded that the same Creator who created the ocean, the canvas of cosmos and named each star…. also created me.

I felt this exact emotion this summer while hiking in Glacier National Park during our Summer Adventure Escape. Surrounded by the massive mountain ranges and glaciers that science says began forming 170 million years ago--from a bird’s eye view, at best I was an insignificant speck, yet like being at the ocean, I felt incredibly significant and had this thought: Could it be that Our Creator created all of this for our enjoyment and pleasure? I think so, but I also think He created nature because we have to have it and need it--as it’s vital to our mental, physical and spiritual health. I also believe that nature, unlike any drug, app, robot or type of technology, puts ALL things in order and perspective. It takes us outside of ourselves and connects us to our spirit—The Spirit.

Excitingly, October is iGnite’s birthday month! WAHOO! Thanks to you, we’re celebrating our 13th birthday, and despite the never-ending world of fitness trends, such as the Peloton and now the workout mirror (don’t even get me started), we will always believe that time and exercise in nature (as often as we can offer it and stay safe), is the best way to experience optimal holistic health. And, when combining exercise, plentiful opportunities outdoors/in nature and an empowering, inspiring and encouraging community of women- it’s like winning the Powerball and Mega Million health lottery. Health and fitness aren't complicated, but as humans always do, we’ve found a way to take something simple and make complex. If we/iGnite followed fitness fads and moved away from our outdoor philosophy we’d violate the integrity and foundation of what we believe is best for the human body, mind and spirit. (Austin iGnite Community: Trust me, if we could offer every class outdoors/365 days out of the year and you could still have an amazing and safe experience, we would do it!)

Over the next few weeks I will site some studies and scientific findings from an engrossing book called Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari. This book is both disturbing and fascinating but mostly fascinating because everything we do in iGnite helps combat depression, anxiety and loneliness- one of the most prevalent epidemics effecting our society and increasing every single day. And, to intentionally dangle a piece of delicious “need-for-nature/outdoors” scientific findings in front of you, I am going to leave you with two “pro-nature/outdoor” facts from Lost Connections. In the meantime, keep moving with us, keep getting dirty, wet and sweaty outside with us and keep connecting with one another, a.k.a. humans. Not to sound dramatic, but it’s a matter surviving vs. thriving:

1. When scientists have compared people who run on a treadmill in the gym with people who run in nature, they found that both have a reduction in depression—but it’s higher for the people who run in nature.

2. One simple study that was most striking got people who lived in cities to take a walk in nature and then tested their mood and concentration. Everyone, predictably, felt better and were able to concentrate more—but the affect was dramatically more significant for people who had been depressed. Their improvement was five times greater than the improvement of other people.


Action Items

If unable to iGnite each day this week, spend a minimum of 30 minutes outside each day so you can experience the benefits of nature/time outside. Spell the air, feel the sun, watch the clouds, sweat, see the sun rise and watch the sun set. Track your mood and energy. (I know it's still hot and we're all tired of the heat, therefore possibly head outside during the less intense times of the day..and don't lose hope! Fall is coming!)


Weekly Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating this spectacular planet, universe and us! Thank you for making us part of your perfect plan. Guard our hearts and minds so we can stay focused on your life-giving creations and regain our intimate connection with our spirit and Your Spirit. And Lord, thank you for Summer. We know Fall will arrive when you tell her too, but if you can please send us some cooler and rejuvenating temperatures this week, we would be so incredibly thankful. But if not, we're still grateful--maybe a little cranky--but grateful! Amen


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