To Your Health – Stay Active

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January 1, 2014

Staying Active and Involved Improves the Quality of RV Living
By Phil Willen

“So, would you rather give you money to a doctor?” a wise lady once replied to me in response to my complaining about money spent on a vacation, her point being the most important thing in life is your health. Everything else is secondary.

At home or on the road, there are things you can do to keep you fit as a fiddle and ready for … well, anything. Just the act of camping can add years and quality to your life, as well as lower doctor bills.

One of the nicest things you can do for your body is walk. Not only does it keep your legs in shape, it helps your heart, lungs and overall feeling of well-being. Your feet act as secondary pumps, helping the heart to keep the blood flowing, delivering oxygen to the brain. After arriving at a campground and setting up, we like to walk around inspecting the variety of rigs and meeting other people. It helps get the blood circulating after a long drive. Obviously, shoes are the heart and sole (pun intended) of walking gear, so make sure yours are a proper fit. There should be about a thumbnail’s width between your toes and the end of the shoe, and a good arch support as well. More shoe buying tips can be found online.

Other Ways to Stay Fit
Besides hiking, there are other things you can do that are fun, while contributing to your overall health. Ride a bike for instance, try bird watching or, if camping near a pier, rent a net and try your hand at crabbing. Not only do you pull the trap up repeatedly but the results can be delicious. If you are able-bodied, rent a kayak, try wind surfing or snorkeling. Swimming is one of the most beneficial exercises because it uses most of the body’s muscles. Many campgrounds have a pool. Ping pong tables, shuffle boards, horse shoes and even miniature golf can be found at many campgrounds. Some are adjacent to full size golf courses.

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and we’re stuck inside our rolling residence for a bit. There are things you can take along for exercise that don’t require a lot of space. Heavy-duty large bands that hook to a door knob or other convenient anchor let you pull your way to health. Small hand weights work, but it’s best to get the ones with the squared off ends so they don’t roll around en route. Many folks carry a rolled up mat to do sit-ups, push-ups and other floor-based calisthenics. There are things like Tai-Chi, Yoga and Pilates, with how-to DVDs that you can take along. These activities and others offer ways to control weight, blood pressure and/or blood sugar, maintain or increase lung capacity or boost other aspects of health.

The Brain as a Muscle
It’s not of course, but the same principle applies-use it or lose it! The brain contains a tree-like group of neurons called dendrites. Were you to look into the brain of a mentally active person you would see a virtual forest of these important branches. Conversely, a non-stimulated mind would look like a forest that has been strip cut. Fertilize your brain with outside stimuli such as reading, doing puzzles or learning new things and the dendrites will grow. Studies show that they can be stimulated by surfing the internet. Hobbies are another way to stimulate your brain. Take pictures-affordable digital cameras have become ubiquitous in recent years. Other hobbies, such as painting, needle point, jewelry making, bird watching, spelunking and rock or seashell collecting can be equally rewarding. Find something that you enjoy while keeping your mind in shape. Some campgrounds have hobby classes in the rec room. Check with the management or look on the campground bulletin board.

Seasonal Gypsies
For those who drop anchor for long periods, such as snowbirds and full-timers, the community outside the campground can be a treasure trove of activities. Check with the campground management to find out what the area offers. View bulletin boards and ask fellow long-term campers. Many places carry hometown newspapers with details of local doings. The local Chamber of Commerce is a good source of information of area goings-on. Look for activities and classes such as tai chi, yoga, golf, tennis, bowling, swimming, photography, bridge clubs, horseback riding … well, you get the idea. Many state, county and government-run facilities need docents to conduct tours of landmarks, museums, native plants and more. Volunteering is a great way to learn and be active. Try something you’ve never done before, like ballroom or line dancing or other group activities, where you can have fun and meet new people with similar interests.Its all about staying involved.

Keeping Active
There are many benefits derived from engaging in various activities, coupled with a healthy diet. Weight will melt off; blood pressure and blood sugar will be lowered. Getting around becomes much easier. Your mind will be sharper and you will be a safer driver. Your overall sense of well-being will improve. Life is not a spectator sport. Get out and participate!

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