By Ashley Wilhoite, BSN, RN, Wellness Director
Spring is a season of reassurance because we know that longer, warmer days are finally ahead. Flowers are starting to bloom, and an abundance of wildlife are becoming unmasked from their winter refuge. It’s a time that brings life not only into our surroundings but ourselves as well. I, for one, can rest assured that the extra daylight and enjoyable weather will allow my family and me to soak up a few extra breaths of fresh air throughout the adventures that spring days in rural Kentucky can often bring.
Hiking has always been an enjoyable outdoor activity for me, although I didn’t become interested in it until a few years ago. As a kid, I explored my grandparents’ farms; many of my childhood memories revolve around those experiences. As I got older, I found myself enveloped within the hustle and bustle of everyday demands.
When we are busy, it’s so easy to push health and wellness to the side. That is until one day we bend over to tie our shoes and find that simple act to be a little harder than it used to be…or when we put on our favorite pair of shorts from last summer and realize we can’t get them buttoned. We all have our own unique story of what prompted us to live a healthier lifestyle.
The great thing about hiking is that almost anyone can do it, and most public hiking grounds have set perimeters and rank their trails by difficulty level. And do you know what the biggest perk of hiking is? It’s free! Most of our local state and city parks allow patrons to discover and explore their outdoor treasures at no cost. All participants can enjoy hiking, both young and old!
What are the benefits of hiking?
Hiking in nature can enhance your mood and improve your mental health. Spending quality time in the great outdoors reduces stress and calms anxiety. Besides having mental health benefits, the outdoors opens up your senses to your surroundings and improves sensory awareness and perception. I have an inner love for writing, and most of my thoughts and inspiration come from being one with nature.
Hiking is an excellent form of exercise. No matter what type of trail you find yourself traversing, hiking is a perfect head-to-toe workout. Sense of balance can even be improved while hiking. Not to mention any form of exercise can decrease your susceptibility to cardiovascular disease and a host of other illnesses.
Here are a few FREE local places to hike.
- Long Run Park
- Beckley Creek Park
- General Butler State Park
- Clifty Falls
- Bernheim Forest
- Jefferson Memorial Forrest
- The Parklands of Floyds Fork
- Charlestown State Park
- Big Bone Lick State Park
- Red River Gorge
- Natural Bridge State Park
And so many more can be found online!
There is no better time to jumpstart your track to health and wellness than now. So strap on those hiking shoes and take a stroll to better health today!