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Heart Month Tip #19: Get Outside

February 19, 2015

From Liz Jones, Community Education Coordinator, St. Luke’s McCall

“Exercise and happiness go hand in hand,” says Liz Jones, especially when you can get outdoors. All exercise is good for you, but there’s something about getting out in nature that replenishes your brain, easing the fatigue that comes from the over-stimulation of technology and urban life. Studies show walking outside can improve memory and attention span by 20%, and just being out in nature can lower blood pressure and ease muscle tension.

Walking or running on nature’s uneven terrain challenges your muscles and requires more effort and energy, compared to a treadmill. Plus, studies show people who exercise outside exercise longer and more often than those working out indoors. And people report enjoying outdoor activity more than indoor, scoring significantly higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure, and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression, and fatigue after they walked outside.

Liz makes sure she gets outside for at least an hour each day—walking her dog, skiing cross-country, and scheduling “walking meetings” at work. She was a competitive rower and rowing coach, so getting out and rowing on Cascade Reservoir is a big part of her outdoor lifestyle. “For me, outdoor exercise relieves stress,” she says, “and I just feel better all around.”

What is a community education coordinator?

Liz relies on her coaching background to be an effective community education coordinator. Those coaching skills come in handy when she’s recruiting people into healthier lifestyles and rallying communities into healthier behaviors—the major focus of her job. She also organizes community education programs and classes, working in partnership with organizations like Valley County Headstart, the University of Idaho Extension Office, local food pantries, and other agencies in McCall, Donnelley, Cascade, and the surrounding region.

Join us for a free Heart Month seminar:.

Mini-Medical School: Understanding Heart Failure and Coronary Artery Disease, presented by cardiologist Dr. Mark Crandall on Thursday, February 19, at 6 p.m., at St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

Registration is recommended.