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5 Reasons You Should Volunteer Abroad

5 Reasons You Should Volunteer Abroad

There are a lot of people who see volunteering as a chore; a charitable cause that takes up all of your free time with no reward (‘I’m too busy to volunteer’ you’ll regularly hear people say). The reality is, at some point in your life, you should volunteer and contribute back to society (think of all it’s done for you?), but it doesn’t have to be for charity, in fact, you can combine it with something you really want to do, like travelling.

Volunteering abroad can be a very valuable learning experience for you. Now, more and more people are signing up to websites like Help X, Workaway and WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on their travels because of the enormous benefits that come with them.

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Recently, I did my first Workaway in Black Forest, Germany, and decided to write about how it enriched my life and how, if you choose to do it, can for you too.

1. Free Room & Board

This first reason is obvious: free room and board. If you’ve ever traveled before, you’ll know how much you can spend on food and accommodation. In fact, most of your money will go on this. Most (if not all) overseas volunteer programs will provide you with free roam and board in exchange for your volunteer work. I volunteered in a small country hotel and was fortunate enough to be provided with some of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten. How else can you travel the world and not have to worry about keeping a roof over your head and where your next meal is going to come from?

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2. You Can Explore

If you volunteer in a rural area (most hosts are in the countryside), you’ll be able to explore some of the most beautiful countrysides and wildlife you’ve ever seen. You’ll be able to explore a side of a country you wouldn’t usually see if you visited a city (which most tourists do) and if you do it over the summer (when most help is needed), you’ll be able to enjoy it a lot more in the sunshine. I was lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful lakes, waterfalls and mountains I’ve ever seen; the sights were some I’ll certainly never forget.

3. The People

My hosts were the nicest couple I’ve ever met. They were so hospitable and generous – I was treated more like a guest than I was a worker. My co-Workawayers were also a real pleasure to meet. It’s like a family: you eat together, you sleep in the same dorm room and you work together. You become really close because of it and you bond over the experience. You’re often all there with a similar goal: to contribute back.

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4. Learn New Skills

If you’ve never worked on a farm and/or a hotel before you’ll be able to learn and hone a whole new skill set and often to your own amazement, skills you never thought you’d be good at (or even considered before). I ended up helping a local Sheppard shear over 600 sheep–a day that only happens once a year. What an experience that was and something I’m proud I was a part of. You can also learn a lot from your roommates. One of my roommates taught me a little Russian and another taught me how to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

5. The Experience

My time in Black Forest is one I’ll never forget. When you volunteer abroad you people that inspire and motivate you, you eat well and most importantly, with your free time, you reflect on who you are and what’s important to you. It’s an experience that a lot of people won’t be willing to do (because they’re too busy), but once you do it, you develop ‘the bug’ for it and want to do it again.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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