Today is Arbor Day, a day to truly celebrate trees and all the wonderful gifts they bestow on our lives. And in true ZooFit fashion, I developed a wonderful (quick) Arbor Day fitness challenge to honor trees and bring awareness to how much they need us.
Trees for You and Me
First and foremost, we wouldn’t be here without trees. They provide us with the air we breathe. Some give us sustenance. Others provide us with shelter. And we use them for our day-to-day living– paper products, furniture, packaging, toys, and more.
We need trees, to breathe and sustain our livelihood. But unfortunately, we aren’t treating them as a precious resource. Rather, we treat them as an infinite commodity.
It reminds me of the wonderful book by Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree. The beautiful tree befriends a little boy, and gives him everything he needs throughout his life- a place to play as a child, fruit to eat and sell as an adult, wood to create shelter, and then even at the end of the boy’s life, she provides a place for him to rest his weary body.
But we can’t just keep taking from trees at the rate we are consuming it. This is why Arbor Day is so important, to remember what trees do for us, and bring awareness to what we can do for trees.
Give Back to the Trees
In the Amazon rainforest, we lose more than an acre of rainforest every second. Deforestation is tearing down trees to make way for cattle/livestock farms, growing soy and grains to feed those cattle, or other food products in high demand. Thanks to the modern/standard American diet (MAD or SAD), we are destroying 72 acres of rainforest every minute of every day, 4500 acres an hour.
This tragedy affects all of us. We lose biodiversity and precious resources found only in the Amazon. The Amazon is often called the lungs of the world, and losing this vital part of our world will drastically impact our health and well-being.
To honor trees on Arbor Day and save our trees by ensuring we use sustainably sourced paper and wood products. Look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) on any products made from trees, certifying these products use recycled paper and sustainable sources for our necessary products.
We can combat this destruction and protect the rainforest further also by eating less red meat. For every head of livestock, more than two acres of grazing land are needed. The number adds up fast, and this eating habit is literally destroying the rainforests of Central and South America.
Plant-a-Tree T-Twist Challenge
Fitness challenges are nothing new. I’ve done 22-push-up challenges to bring awareness to depression and suicide among veterans. And yes, doing an exercise isn’t exactly the same as doing an action to help. But bringing awareness is the first step.
To bring awareness to the number of trees we lose every minute, on this Arbor Day, or whenever you are performing your workout, I propose this quick easy challenge. Throughout the day, or in one sitting, perform 72 Plant-a-Tree T-Twist Planks.
A T-Twist Plank is a rotating side plank. Start on all fours. Keep arms extended, hands on the ground and push feet back, into a straight arm plank (see Photo 1). Tighten core and bring stomach in, while also maintaining a straight back. Lift your right arm and reach over to the left side, then open up to the right side, stretching your right arm up to the sky (see Photo 2). Shift weight in feet from a forward plank to a side plank, but only for a moment. Bring arm down, and shift weight back to a straight arm plank. Repeat with your left arm. First stretch it across to the right side, then open up to the left side of the body in a side plank.
As you do each T-Twist Plank, remember how our actions contribute to the loss of these trees- our consumer choices, our eating habits, our sustainability practices. Bring awareness of the issue to your fitness program, and then change your habits to create a more positive impact on the forests, a better world, and a healthier planet.
Actions for Arbor Day
To bring our awareness full circle, after 72 Plant-a-Tree T-Twist Planks, I hope you are inspired to do more to save trees. And no day is better to practice and participate than THIS day. And every day.
Here are some useful tips you can do to protect the rainforest, and appreciate trees:
- Eat less red meat by practicing Meatless Mondays, Animal Friendly Fridays, or any day you choose.
- Use sustainably sourced paper products such as Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, or recycled paper products such as boxes, bags, and greeting cards.
- Reduce paper use with products like Rocketbook (a full review on this product is coming soon).
- Reduce your intake of meat by filling your plate with more veggies (switch from 8 oz steak to 4 oz beef and increase veggies from 4 oz to 8 oz).
- Buy Rainforest Alliance certified products
- Borrow books from the library, listen to audio books online, or read e-books over buying new books.
- Plant a tree in your backyard, or help your community plant trees in parks, community gardens, and public green areas.
- Hug a tree and thank them for all their gifts in our lives.
Take care of trees, so they can continue taking care of us. Today, tomorrow, and forever- connecting to the earth in a healthy and positive way.