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A Better Connection

Watch a child play outdoors and you’ll see them jump, run and climb. They’re not worried about elevating their heart rate or how many calories they’re burning. Instead, they’re in the moment, relishing in play and finding joy in the simplicity of a swing, flower or a puddle to splash.

As a child I loved running and soccer. Along the way of playing collegiate soccer, I forgot how much joy I found in these sports. I think most of us can relate. In my teens, I began to associate running with fitness tests and competition. It became a duty. Thankfully, in college I began to find joy in running again. I learned to slow down, appreciate my body and credit this to meditation, yoga and qigong.

Today as a fitness professional and athlete, I try to reeducate my clients and athletes to tune into their bodies. I'm exposed to the latest fitness apps and devices and while teaching in group settings, I notice how prevalent they are. By 2020, the global market for fitness-focused apps and devices is predicted to be around $30 billion.

Research has shown that participants who wore fitness trackers lost less weight than those who did not use the devices. Andy Gaplhin, Ph.D, a professor of kinesiology at the Center for Sport Performance at California State University, Fullerton advises,

Be conscious of what your body is doing- don't outsource your intelligence to a piece of technology.

Today, I have made the personal choice to ditch my heart rate monitor on my workouts and trail runs. I have used them in the past while training for marathons and triathlons. Currently, I dedicate 7-10 hours each week to my personal workouts for endurance and obstacle races and physically train with my clients 25-30 hours a week. I rely on my body for so much. There's something truly magical about unplugging from a device and tuning in to my mind and body. So far, it's helped me maintain a fitness level I'm happy with and keeps me more present and focused.

I suggest doing what serves you best. You know your body and needs better than anyone else. Movement is a form of celebrating your body, finding your flow, your resilience and tapping in to a place that alleviates stress, embodies strength and makes you feel good.

Forest Bathing, also known as shin-rin-yo-kuu was introduced in 1982 by the Forest Agency of the Japanese Government. Forest bathing translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere.” In the last 36 years, there has been extensive research on Forest bathing and its many health benefits. Forest bathing has been shown to strengthen the immune system, calm our energy and encourage healing in the body and spirit.

Being in nature, even if only for a few minutes at a time, boosts our mood and helps combat stress. Unlike a hike or a trail run which focuses on destination or performance, forest bathing focuses on slowing down and being present with your surroundings.

I've recently launched my podcast, Meditate with Kate. In Episode 3, I discuss this topic in greater detail, the science, the studies and lead you through a 7 minute guided meditation. Check it out here.

Suggested Reading:

Unplugged: Evolve from Technology to Upgrade Your Fitness, Performance and Consciousness

Brian MacKenzie, Phil White, Andy Galpin

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