Angela Edwards's picture

By Angela Edwards, Founder, Biblical Bodies

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. Spring is finally here and we just can’t help but get outside!

Health and Fitness became a passion for me when I graduated high school and finally found freedom from my five-year battle with eating disorders. Since then, I have found ways to honor God with my passion. I began an online blog called Biblical Bodies - Scripture and Science Based Health and Wellness for the Whole Being. Through it, I encourage all to have God as the center of their fitness lifestyle. I help guide them on their journey to understand that God created our physical body and He alone knows what is best for it.

5 WAYS TO DO SPRING TRAINING

There are so many ways to enjoy God’s creation outdoors. I’ve organized a spring training program for you that provides variety, fun, vigorous exercise and refreshing spiritual engagement. Do all five to expand how you get active and how you get connected with God and others:

Cardiovascular exercises
Calisthenics with playground equipment
Gardening
Personal reflection and meditation
Interval training

All are great ways to marvel at God’s wonderful creation. Click/tap on the numbers below to proceed to each of the training activities. They are illustrated by Mary Kate (see her video below), a YMCA Personal Trainer who recently did all five on location at Brent And Becky’s, a beautiful garden in Virginia. Find your own nearby spring training destinations to do each of these training activities. Now, let’s take your fitness and faith outside!

Click/tap on the numbers below for each page of the training activities.

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CARDIOVASCULAR

There are multiple forms of cardio exercises you can do while enjoying the outdoors! You can go hiking through the woods, ride your bike around a local park or take an early morning run and watch the sunrise. Taking a walk on your lunch break is a great option to take a breather and rejuvenate your mind. Cardiovascular activities can decrease daily fatigue, anxiety, depression, osteoporosis and obesity. It can increases flexibility, work/recreational/sport performance, sense of wellbeing, and immunity.

What better way to spend some time with God and get in a great workout, than to be surrounded by His creation!

For more stories on bicycling and running read the Pedal, Race, Run Department of Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine. For more stories on hiking or walking go to the Hike, Camp, Climb Department of Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine.

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

God will provide the strength you need spiritually and physically while exercising outdoors. All you need to do is ask Him! Spend some time in prayer during your next workout and see how you feel after, you won’t regret it!

Click/tap on the numbers below for each page of the training activities.

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THE PLAYGROUND

Meeting at the park for a playdate with some friends and their children is another great way to get active outdoors! Don’t just watch your children play, get going too! An upcoming and popular form of exercise is Parkour, which is the act of moving from point “a” to point “b” using the obstacles (in this case playground equipment) in your path to increase your strength, speed, agility and balance skills. Sounds like a fun game, right? Get your kids and time yourselves to see how quick you can get across the equipment. You can even do this in the forest among rocks, trees and hills.

Parkour is about looking at what is in front of you and believing in your heart that you can overcome it, you just have to find the path. We all learn to walk at our own pace and in our own way; we start small but no matter how many times we may fail, we must never give up. The skills learned can be a great learning experience for you and your child.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Click/tap on the numbers below for each page of the training activities.

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GARDENING

Gardening can be vigorous work. From tilling the soil to digging a water trench, it uses the entire body. We squat and kneel to pull weeds and prune the plants which can develop hand strength and dexterity. Gardening can help us mature in patience and persistence, while we learn to slow down and appreciate the small things in life.

Gardening is a great way to connect with God’s creation by tending to your own flowers, vegetables, herbs or trees. It reminds us how God prunes just like we do our own gardens but in a spiritual way.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Pruning can be tedious and sometimes painful for the recipient, but it is a necessary part of growth and well worth the reward at the end.

Click/tap on the numbers below for each page of the training activities.

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QUIET MEDITATION

As the weather grows warmer, I will be starting to bring my meditation practices outdoors. By sitting near rivers, relaxing in a backyard or if you are ever so lucky, by the ocean; taking the time to enjoy the incredible power that nature can add will produce benefits far beyond just the physical. Meditation reduces stress, improves concentration, increased self-awareness, and influences a healthy lifestyle. Listening to nature creates a deeper connection to the world we live in and naturally pulls us into the present moment. All you need is a blanket or mat, a bit of grass and maybe a tree to sit under. That is all. Nothing more. Close your eyes and breathe. You’ll find it to be an amazing place.

At least once a week, get alone with God in His creation. Meditate on the following verses and welcome a spiritual encounter with our Creator.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Be still and know that I am God.

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows,you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Click/tap on the numbers below for each page of the training activities.

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INTERVAL TRAINING

One of my favorite ways is to take my HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training, workout outdoors.

You would be surprised at how many different exercises can easily be done in the grass! I am going to share with you 5 exercises that can be done whether you are in your own backyard or at a local park. I will also tell you how to make a complete workout that will increase your heart rate and help you burn calories hours after you have finished!

Exercise #1: Squats

Squats are a great exercise to firm up your legs muscles. It strengthens your quads and glutes while providing a stabilizing workout for your core. For a standard squat, start with your legs hips width apart and feet pointing forward. Think as if your were moving down to sit in a chair; bend your knees and push your hips back. Once you have reached a 90 degree angle in your knees or the height a standard chair would be at, straighten your legs and drive your hips forward while squeezing the glute muscles. This completes the movement for a standard squat.

Take it to the next level: Squat Jump

If you would like to make the standard squat a bit more challenging, you could add a jump! Proceed as you would a standard squat but instead of straightening your legs as you come up, you will push off the ground from the lowered position and straighten your legs mid air. As you come down from the jump, you will lower your body into the standard squat position again. This will add an aspect of cardiorespiratory exercise which will in turn increase calorie burn.

Exercise #2: Planks

A plank is an exercise that will challenge your entire body; especially the core muscles, by incorporating balance, stability and strength elements. To perform a standard plank, start with lowering your body onto the knees and hands, shoulder width apart. From this position, bend your elbows and rest your weight onto your forearms. Then extend your legs out, ankles together and rest your weight onto the tops of your toes; your body should be a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles. Tighten your stomach and bring your bellybutton in towards your spine. This completes the movement for a standard plank.

Take it to the next level: Plank with One Arm Reach

To make the standard plank more challenging, let’s decrease the stability and increase the element of balance. Start by getting into the standard plank position. Once stable, lift one arm off the ground and reach forward. You will have to redistribute your weight evening between your feet and the arm still resting on the ground. Hold this position for half of the advised time and then switch to the other side to finish.

Exercise #3: Side lunge

Side lunges will firm up your hips, glutes and thighs differently than a standard squat exercise.  Start with the knees and hips slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart. Be sure to maintain good posture through the entire spine, keeping your head and chest up. Take a step to the right keeping your toes pointed forward. Then, bend the right knee while keeping the left straightened, pushing your hips back as if performing a standard squat. Pause at the bottom of the lunge, and then extend through the bent leg to return to the starting position. This completes the movement for a side lunge.

Take it to the next level: Side Lunge with Lift

To make the side lunge a full body movement, work your upper body, and increase your heart rate, try adding a lift of your arms overhead and kicking your working leg out to the side. When coming out of the lunge and extending the bent working knee, lift your arms overhead as you lift your working leg out to the side, balancing on the opposite leg. As you come down from the lift, go straight into another side lunge on the same working leg.

Exercise #4: Push Ups

Push ups are a great way to work your chest, shoulders, arms and back muscles while bringing stability workout for your core. To perform a standard push up, start with lowering your body onto the toes with ankles together and hands shoulder width apart, weight resting on the palms. Your body should be a straight line from the shoulders to the ankles with no arch in the lower back. From this position, bend your elbows while lowering the chest to the ground. Pause at the bottom and then push through the palms of the hands all the way up, straightening the elbows. This completes the movement for a standard push up.

Take it to the next level: Push Up to Downward Dog

Challenge your shoulder stability by incorporating the popular yoga movement called downward dog into your standard push up. After completing the standard push up, push back through the hands and bring the hips up towards the sky, forming an “A” with your body. Push through the heels downward to stretch the hamstrings and calves while keeping the head next to your upper arms. Legs will stay straight through the entire movement. After a good stretch at the top of the “A”, lower the hips down to the starting standard push up position.

Exercise #5: High Knee March

High knee marches will fire up the entire leg and hips while challenging your core balance.

Start standing with feet hip distance apart. Lift up one knee as high as it will go and raise the opposite arm, then switch to the opposite leg and lift the knee. This completes the movement for a high knee march.

Take it to the next level: Standing March with Twist

To challenge your core more, start in high knee march position with your arms overhead and core braced. Bring an elbow to the opposite knee as you twist through waist, then return to starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Focus on using the core to lift the knee and squeeze the core throughout.

Now, let’s put all the exercises together to create an awesome metabolism boosting workout in 4 easy steps!

  1. First, warm up and stretch for 5 minutes.
  2. Second, do each exercise for 30 seconds with a 60 second rest between.
  3. Repeat the HIIT circuit 3xs.
  4. Lastly, cool down and stretch for 5 minutes.

This will give you a total workout of 32 minutes and 30 seconds. The intensity of the workout will depend on you. You can increase it by doing faster but controlled movements or add more weight by using dumbbells, kettlebells or my favorite: my kid!

Click/tap on the numbers below for the conclusion of the training activities.

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PHYSICAL MOTIVATION – SPIRITUAL CONNECTION

Exercising outside is a great way to stay motivated physically and stay connected with God spiritually. The fresh air, rapidly changing season, and variety of exercises easily and naturally done outdoors inspire us to enjoy our health and wellness journey. I invite you this spring training season to heed that inner call to get out and be active.

Get moving with your family, friends or coworkers. Create a new playlist of music and audio Bible readings that will encourage and inspire you in your faith. Listen to it while walking, hiking, running or riding your bike. Find a favorite power verse or two to use whenever you need that extra push to get through your workout.

Most importantly, intentionally make time to steal away with God, reflect on Him and all He has done for you. Then quietly and patiently listen.

I encourage you to make your next outdoor workout a spiritual encounter with God. Make spring training a seasonal launch into repair, restoration and a new and fresh outlook for your faith and fitness. For more uplifting reading, check out Angela's blog.


This article appears in the Training Department of the April/May 2017 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine.

Take a moment now and GIVE TO THIS MINISTRY. Help up help others to get physically and spiritually strong.

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About the Author

 
  • Angela Edwards's picture
    Angela Edwards is the founder of Biblical Bodies based in St. Louis, Missouri where she is a wife, mother and entrepreneur. She has her Bachelor in Business from Missouri Baptist University. She is getting her certification in Biblical Nutrition and Biblical Health Coaching from the Life Training Institute.

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