It’s springtime. It’s also the year of the bird
… and Wausau and Stevens Point are two of 23 cities that have earned the title “Bird City.”

So, what do all those facts have to do with orthopedics?

When you take a more in-depth look at the hobby of “birding,” the connection is obvious. Birding encourages balance, endurance, and weight-bearing activity that can boost the health of your muscles, bones, and joints.

But isn’t birding just watching birds at the feeder?

Just ask a serious birder, and the answer will be a resounding “no.” Birding is not “just” bird watching.

While it’s true that birders may watch birds at their home feeders or in the trees around their neighborhoods, the sport of birding takes people outside past the feeders and the parks. Birders slog through marshes, trek through woods, and hike rugged, rocky trails for a glimpse of these feathery flyers in their natural habitats. Serious birders have even been known to take trips to Costa Rica or Africa to see birds in their migratory habitats.

Not only does all that activity get people moving, but studies show birding increases your serotonin levels and helps you relieve stress. We’ve also uncovered five ways that birding can benefit your orthopedic health.

Birding is good for your bones.

  • Birding gets you outdoors. Not only does birding get you into the fresh air, but it also allows your skin to absorb the sun’s rays which promotes the formation of vitamin D. The vitamin your body needs for calcium absorption and healthy bones.
  • Birding involves weight-bearing exercise. Sometimes birders find the species they seek a short distance from the parking lot. At other times, they may need to hike a mile or more through rugged terrain to see their quest in its nesting area.
  • Birding improves balance. Did we mention hiking rugged trails? The uneven terrains birders encounter as they trek through the woods, meadows, and marshes require them to maintain their balance through constant, micro-muscle adjustments in their midsections. These movements strengthen the core muscles in the back and abdomen, which leads to better balance and fewer falls.
  • Birding builds arm muscles. Birding enthusiasts invest in their sport. In addition to the hiking boots and outerwear needed to weather precipitation or climate changes, birders often purchase serious hardware in the form of binoculars, scopes, and cameras with telephoto lenses. Some of this bird-watching equipment can be heavy when held at shoulder height for long periods of time.
  • Birding increases reflex speed. Bird watching takes patience. But when that elusive falcon, owl or songbird finally appears, birders must move quickly and quietly, or they will miss the chance to see the bird they’ve waited hours to see.

Want to try the sport of birding?

There are many opportunities in Central Wisconsin.

Wausau and Stevens Point have been declared bird cities by Bird City Wisconsin in recognition of their commitment to bird conservation.

The Wausau Bird Club and the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society of Stevens Point are two local groups that can assist you as you get started in the sport. These groups have access to a variety of educational, informational, and experiential resources to introduce a beginning birder to this fascinating world.

If you are looking for a silent sport that will have you traveling around the state, the country, and quite possibly the world, why not celebrate the year of the bird with an introduction into birding.