Wellness Inspiration Tips from Elephants

Okay, fine: this post is largely about giving me an excuse to share precious photos of me with elephants in Thailand. You caught me.

wellness inspiration

BUT THEY’RE SO CUTE! (Even when trying to eat me)


Adorableness aside, elephants are intelligent, social and caring animals that we could all stand to emulate a little bit.

In a bit of a workout trunk – er, funk? Get your inspiration from the habits of these gentle giants.

Stay social

Elephants are super social creatures, and females live in groups of about 15 led by a matriarch (males go off on their own after adolescence). Talk about girl gang power.

wellness inspiration

Plus, elephants have been observed to have welcoming ceremonies when a fellow herd member who’s been away for awhile returns to the group.

Elephants are big huggers too, wrapping their trunks around another’s trunk to show affection (see also: the above .gif. Maybe the elephant just really, really liked me).

Make it relephant to your life: Even for introverts, it’s important to foster social connections. Whether you find your tribe through fitness or elsewhere, having good friends can increase your life span, keep your brain in tip-top shape, and improve your general health. Plus, since we love shine theory over here, we wholly support surrounding yourself with smart, empowered women who help you to live your best life.

Oh, and hugging has its own set of benefits too, like reducing stress and boosting your immune system.

Just keep swimming

We know running is hard on the joints – that’s especially true when you weigh in the 10,000 pound range.

Instead of running for pleasure, elephants swim, since their large mass actually makes them incredibly buoyant. Elephants paddle along completely submerged, with their mouths below water, using their trunk as a snorkel.

And they’re really, really good at swimming, with incredible endurance. In fact, Asian elephants have been known to swim between landmasses in the Andaman Sea in search of food, and some speculate that elephants first made their way to Sri Lanka by swimming.

wellness inspiration

Make it relephant: Swimming is a great choice for cardio, and it pulls double duty by acting as strength training as well (after all, your muscles are working against the resistance of the water). Your body will learn to use oxygen more efficiently, and you’ll increase your endurance, making swimming an effective winter cross-training activity if you’re a long-distance runner. Plus, it’s low-impact and easy on your joints, perfect for if you’re pregnant or recovering from an injury. Chicagoans, just blow-dry your hair afterwards so it doesn’t freeze when you walk outside.

Plant-based diet

You might think that an animal that weighs around five tons has to eat other animals for protein, but elephants are actually herbivores. Their diet consists of grass, small plants, fruits, tree bark, roots, twigs and other vegetation.

Since they require so much food (up to 550 lbs per day), elephants spend about 80 percent of their day eating. The other five hours are devoted to sleep. #GOALS

Make it relephant: Experiment with taking meat out of your diet a few times a week. Our friend Whitney E, RD follows a plant-based nutritional philosophy and has tons of resources to help you make the transition yourself. You can also try creating your own plant-based kitchen with this getting-started guide.

Need a little convincing? Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians enjoy a ton of health benefits, like a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as a longer life span.

SPF is for animals, too

Elephants may look tough, with their wrinkled, roughened skin, but think again: their skin is actually really sensitive and vulnerable to sunburn.

Since Coppertone isn’t readily available to elephants, they protect themselves by playing in the dust and dirt and slathering themselves in mud. In fact, even after a bath, elephants will slather themselves in dirt to shield themselves from the sun. Older elephants will protect sleeping calves by standing over them and casting shade.

Make it relephant: If elephants have the common sense to protect their skin, you can remember to put on a moisturizer with SPF on it every morning.

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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