This has been a sunny and warm winter in Santa Cruz — perfect for beach volleyball. Yesterday I shut down my computer at 11:45 a.m., hopped on my bike, and headed for the beach to meet my volleyball crew — a great group of men and women age 20s-60s.
I feel blessed indeed since rumor suggests we have the largest consistent mid-weekday volleyball group in California (about 8-16 people year round). I rolled up to the beach around noon and got a game within minutes (I did a few pushups while I waited for enough players to start our third court).
Though the view and fresh air are hard to beat, one thing I love about beach volleyball is the sand. Not only does it give me a better workout than terra firma, I can sprint and dive to get impossible shots with minimal risk of injury. Since I plan to bike and play beach volleyball and soccer into my 70s, that’s good.
Another thing I love about beach volleyball is that it uses both my fast-twitch muscles and slow-twitch muscles, all while providing a core-body workout.
Finally, sports like volleyball allow me to be present. Some people meditate, and others skydive to get “out of their mind.” I play sports. When I’m diving for the ball, I’m out of my mind and in the flow!
By about 2pm got in four great games and took a quick dip in the ocean before biking home. So, in about two hours, I got to bike seven miles, do some pushups, play some beach volleyball, have a hell of a lot of fun, be present, get some sunshine, and get a great multi-dimensional workout with friends. I love my siesta.
Though I’ve never had a gym membership, people half my age regularly ask me how to stay fit. What’s my secret? I take a daily “siesta,” just like I did yesterday. I realize this can raise some eyebrows in our workaholic American culture—Americans work more hours per year than anyone in the world. But I think physical and mental well being are priceless.
Rather than a nap during my siesta, I get outside and play for a couple of hours, starting around noon. These days I mix it up between biking, martial arts, soccer, hiking, and beach volleyball. Not only do I look forward to getting outside, I return refreshed and ready to finish my work day, after having fun, a great workout, and some sunshine.
BTW: the latest research indicates that sunshine and the Vitamin D it produces are very healthy. I do wear a sun hat such as a Sun Day Afternoon sport hat or field hat year round.
Also, when the sun is strongest, between April 21-August 21, I wear a long-sleeve shirt half the time. I prefer standard organic cotton shirts, which are ~SPF 10. Tighter weaves, like synthetics, are more like SPF 15-30, depending on the tightness of the weave and thickness of the shirt. Finally, since most sunscreens are toxic, I use some natural sunscreen on areas not covered by my hat and long-sleeve shirt. My favorite natural sunscreen is Hara Sport SPF 30.
What’s your favorite sport (even if you haven’t played for a while)? Check your local park or beach for noon or after work pickup soccer or basketball, or ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, or? Or, find — or start — a Meetup or Yahoo or Google group or a group at work. If you prefer to do your own thing, try some interval training or surfing or yoga during your lunch break. Whatever you do, get outside and enjoy!