Exercise and Views of Nature Make a Great Opportunity to Recharge

Take a Moment to Address Your Physical and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We’ve heard of the “Freshman Fifteen” but how about the “COVID-19 Fifteen”? It turns out that in addition to the concerns about stress and mental health that compound the general health concerns that COVID-19 has raised, the pandemic has taken a toll on individuals’ waistline. Concerns have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic that weight gain after long periods of inactivity and compensatory eating has made increased obesity a secondary health issue of the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this news, it’s important to find opportunities to get out and exercise while also enjoying the outdoors. One good way to recharge is by taking short hikes and exploring new places. These outings can provide both an important opportunity for exercise and the ability to immerse yourself in a pleasing natural environment. The combination of exercise and aesthetic appeal can have a profound impact on your general well-being. The end result is two-fold as exercise can improve your physical and mental health.

Not all hikes, or nature walks, need to be particularly strenuous either. In fact — some of the best nature preserves are set up specifically to accommodate individuals of all capabilities. This allows everyone to enjoy themselves and explore at their own pace.

What makes a preserve particularly well suited for a visit during the quarantine?

1. The trail should be located off of a major road that provides accessibility in even inclement weather.

2. The trail system at the preserve will be well mapped out and marked. You don’t want to get lost while exercising! The trail itself should be cleared so that the path is distinguishable from the surrounding non-trail area.

3. Ideally, the trial will be set up to provide many suitable options for visitors to enjoy. A good example is a nature trail that has two looped trails connected that have a connector in the center. Options like these that have a midway opportunity to stop and relax often have nice views as well. For instance, there may be a gazebo or a bench located at the top of a hill in a clearing to provide a great vantage point for visitors to enjoy views. After relaxing, individuals get to decide whether they want to head back or complete the remainder of the trails.

4. Great views! Tremendous views are a must when enjoying a hike in the wilderness. It turns out that being around nature and having great views of nature can be very beneficial to your mental health. This means that making sure to enjoy your surroundings while exercising provides two beneficial boosts to your mind and body.

5. An opportunity to learn something new. In addition to exercise and esthetically pleasing surrounding a great nature, preserve will also provide some educational opportunities. Some examples of great educational material are park signage that tells about the wildlife and plant life that is native to the area. Other signage may tell of the historical significance of the land or surrounding area.

6. Waterfalls — Both the sound and view of the water are pleasing to people and waterfalls are particularly popular. Adding a waterfall is an easy way to reap additional rewards from your outing.

Happy Hiking!

Lake George, New York is a popular destination and the preserve pictured above is part of the Lake George Land Conservancy. For a trail guide, go to Lake George Land Conservancy: lglc.org. The article this short post was adapted from comes from a longer article that I originally published at https://www.adksports.com.

Thomas J. O’Grady, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a data minded professional who is an avid runner, hiker, and lover of the outdoors.

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