When was the last time you climbed a tree? Most adults don’t even contemplate climbing trees, thinking it’s only for young children. On the contrary! Tree climbing can be one of the most beneficial, exhilarating exercises you can add to your weekly fitness routines! And, it’s free!! No equipment to purchase, no membership fees….just find some wonderful tall, sturdy hardwood tree and start climbing! Think of a tree as a living playground and fitness facility. The “Green” workout center for the 21st Century!
We all know that our modern culture has turned to implementing a 30 to 60 minutes exercise program into our days, utilizing weights, machines, and instructors. We have more knowledge about how the human body works and responds to exercise than we’ve ever had before. Despite this wealth of health and fitness education, the general population continues to be physically sedentary and out of shape.
I believe that many people have lost the desire to get up and move. They find exercise boring, too tired after long hours at work, settle into bad habits of sitting in front of the TV, Computers, Gaming, or on cell phones texting. We see exercise as boring or a chore, and thinking it’s all about looking fit, which many people have lost the desire to look youthful and in good shape. Most importantly, we forget about moving our bodies the way God designed us to move so that we are able to be flexible, strong, and full of energy to accomplish practical real life chores. (i.e. cutting down trees, splitting and piling wood, digging and building stone creek beds, tending to our land with less machinery and putting more of our back into maintaining our yards, gardens, enjoying the outdoors and fresh air as we accomplish daily tasks. Fewer gadgets and equipment, more old-fashioned shovels, axes, handsaws, etc. Caring for our bodies has become a chore, no fun for most people. Something people dread and have to force themselves to do a few times each week, if that. People have forgotten how to play, and move as we are designed to move. We should become healthier and stronger with each year, not grow weaker, and yet, that is what people believe happens as we age. George Bernard Shaw once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old: we grow old because we stop playing.” Yup, that says it all! My friends, it’s time to get off the couch and start playing! Start enjoying being physically active! Staying fit shouldn’t be a chore, but rather, a joy to look forward to! We’ve lost the ability to be natural.
Exposing my granddaughter, Claire, early in her life to the joy and benefits to climbing trees!
Tree Climbing is one of the most natural childhood activities. I've been climbing trees since I was a little girl. I've never stopped because of the pure joy I get from being in nature, moving my body in ways that I can't when living the modern American way. Even though I still enjoy my Home Fitness Center with weights and machines when bad weather prevents me from being active outdoors, there truly is nothing like climbing trees! We are designed to climb. Look at your hands; fingers and thumbs...this is what makes us special in the animal kingdom. God designed us to climb so we could retrieve food from trees or escape from predators. Our hands are designed to grab, our shoulders are made to hang and brachiate. When we do this as adults, we revert back to that time in our lives when we were courageous, and feared nothing would happen to us. We become free, letting go of the daily stressors in our lives, and become one with nature. We also set an example for our children and grandchildren, showing them that no matter how old we are, playing is vital to staying young, fit, and healthy. See my other blog for more information about this topic: Living in an Unnatural Environment
I'm reaching towards Claire for her to grab my hand...you can see her little shadow in the lower right hand side of this picture.
Before climbing a tree, safety is vital! It’s important to locate strong healthy hardwood trees surrounded by grass or the soft surface of the forest, laden with leaves. In case of a fall, it’s better to land on a soft surface than a concrete sidewalk! Remember, there is an element of risk, as there is to driving a car…good judgment and staying alert to your surroundings will make this more enjoyable! Ask your spouse, other family members, or friends to join you! Rox and I love to climb trees together!
When climbing a tree, some people may find it difficult descending, as you are leading with your feet and not your face. I find going barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes, allow my feet to be my eyes, as they are able to sense each branch that I place my foot on.
What I like to do for a really great bodyweight workout, is to find a few sturdy tall trees about 40 yards apart and climb as fast as I can to the top and then descend. Once on the ground, sprint to the other tree and climb that one quickly. Remember, safety first, go at the pace that you feel comfortable with. In time, you will become more at ease. Try to climb each tree four or five times with the sprint between each tree. You’ll also find that your balance will become keener from spending time stretching from branch to branch. Place your legs on different branches and get a fabulous stretch in your hamstrings... So many benefits from playing in trees! See our Workout Wednesday: Treesvideoto see this tree workout in action!
So many physical benefits we gain from climbing a tree! Not only do we get a full bodyweight workout, you can also do stretching, pull ups, inverted sit ups, dips, hanging leg raises - Be creative and develop your on workout regime!
Great for stretching and realigning our back, too!