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Recently, my husband and I combined a trip to see the red rocks of Utah with a weekend for our son’s wedding in the Wasatch Mountains. We had long heard about Arches National Park and Canyonlands. We could visit both places at once.
During that week, we were also granted enough time to explore another range, the Uinta Mountains, before the wedding. When we returned home, I made a mental note. Our weekend walks in the city would now include ventures to the area’s forested regions too.
What draws us to paths and trails in nature, and does it help keep our bodies healthy and brains intact?
Accessibility and Benefits
Unlike skiing or fishing, hiking for a few hours requires little in the way of equipment, given some knowledge of the area. With the rising popularity of the AllTrails app, an app that became more prominent during the pandemic, finding trails near your home, and in proximity to your skill level, is as easy as downloading a free version of the app.
All it takes is a good pair of walking shoes, a bottle of water, a few nutrition bars, and you are off.
Once I began using AllTrails, the entire state of Ohio beckoned me to hike. I used the app wherever I traveled, and easily discovered new trails to explore. When I demonstrated the use of the app to my sister, one of my walking companions when we’re in the same town, she was surprised by how many hikes existed near her in the Cleveland Metroparks.
Not only do we benefit from the fresh air, but also from the calming nature of trees and streams. And, to follow a map or trail requires brain activity. I have always loved maps, ever since my parents ordered AAA Triptiks for every vacation. The kids fought to sit up front with our parents (when that was allowed) and check off the stops. One felt in charge when they knew the location of the next restroom stop. However, we also learned how to navigate highways and byways through this effort, and our father’s insistence on retrieving a map to plot our routes wherever we were planning to drive.
If we are on a path long enough, we allow our minds to wander while simultaneously watching where we step. Recently, a friend of mine with a repetitive injury to the leg, began hiking instead of taking daily walks in her neighborhood. When I asked why the change, she mentioned how the nature of hiking required us to be intentional every step of the way. The paths are sometimes rocky, go up and down, and can often be slippery. By watching each step, we become aware of what dangers are in front of us, have a sense of direction further along the trail, and remain in the moment focused on the task.
Luckily for us, while in the Utah mountains, I also learned that, according to the Health Fitness Revolution, “Altitude is king when it comes to losing weight! And the sweetest thing about this cardio workout? Trails are typically easier on your joints than concrete or blacktop would be for running and walking, so your knees and ankles will seriously thank you after your trek.”
The overall benefits to hiking are plenty, including burning calories and keeping your heart fit. On any hill, consistent breathing is not only a side benefit, but necessary, especially when it comes to altitude.
If you’re not happy while hiking, don’t tell the researchers who published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The findings reveal individuals who walk in nature are less likely to be depressed. The participants in the test walked for 1½ hours in nature and demonstrated less activity in that part of the brain related to depression than participants who walked in city areas bustling with traffic.
In the Midwest, the leaves are just starting to change color. Before winter settles in, we have time to get fit, be intentional, discover a few new paths outside our usual routes, and find a little bit of happiness on the trail.
Annette Januzzi Wick is a writer, speaker, and author of I’ll Have Some of Yours, a journey of cookies and caregiving. (Three Arch Press). A frequent contributor to Cincinnati.com, her work has appeared in Cincinnati Magazine, nextavenue.com, Still Point Arts, 3rd Act Magazine, Ovunque Siamo, Belt Magazine and Creative Nonfiction (both forthcoming). Visit annettejwick.com to learn more.
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Often the hardest part of doing something new is getting started, and that's especially true about exercise. This article from AARP makes it easy to get started with the most important exercise to help you age healthy: squats. Five or ten squats are easy to do while you wait for the coffee to brew or the microwave to finish heating.Even when we're healthy we sometimes need a little extra help with the house or errands. Visit our website at www.rosehillathome.com to learn more about how Rose Hill Stay-at-Home Services can help you or a loved one stay in independent and at home.
Transitioning into an independent living residence in Palmetto, FL can be an exciting new chapter in your life, especially when it comes to revisiting old pastimes that once brought joy and fulfillment. These communities are not just about comfortable living; they are also about rekindling passions and enjoying the leisure activities that you love. Here are four ways to rediscover and reengage with your old hobbies, making the most of the amenities and the like-minded company your new home offers.Join Community Clubs or GroupsMost independent living residences boast a variety of clubs and groups designed to cater to the diverse interests of their residents. Whether you once had a love for painting, gardening, or chess, there is likely a club within your retirement community where you can reconnect with that interest. These groups are fantastic for socializing and sharing your passion with others who have similar hobbies. You can also learn new techniques, share your knowledge, and perhaps even take on leadership roles within the club, helping to organize events and activities.Take Advantage of On-site AmenitiesYour independent living residence in Palmetto, FL is likely equipped with a range of amenities designed to enhance your lifestyle and leisure time. If you used to enjoy swimming, for example, the on-site pool is not just for exercise; it can be a place to get back into the rhythm of swimming laps or even teach others. Libraries, craft rooms, and woodworking shops also offer spaces to reignite your love for reading, crafting, or building. These amenities are included in your living experience, so make the most of them by dedicating time to indulge in your hobbies.Explore Educational OpportunitiesLearning never stops, and as you age, you might find that you have a deeper appreciation for acquiring new knowledge and skills related to your hobbies. Look for educational opportunities offered within your community, such as workshops, lectures, or classes. These can be particularly beneficial if you are looking to brush up on skills or dive deeper into a hobby that you have not pursued in a while. Whether it is a writing workshop to reawaken your love for storytelling or art classes to refine your painting technique, these learning opportunities can be both fulfilling and enjoyable.Create a Hobby Haven in Your ResidenceYour personal space within an independent living community can be transformed into a haven for your hobbies. Carve out a corner of your apartment for a reading nook, set up a small studio for your painting, or organize a space for your knitting or sewing. Having a dedicated space for your hobbies can inspire you to spend more time on them. Decorate this area with items that motivate you, such as inspiring quotes, images, or anything that reminds you of the joy your hobbies bring. This personalization can make your living space feel even more like home.Enhancing Your LifeRediscovering your hobbies in an independent living community in Palmetto, FL is not only about entertainment but also about enhancing your quality of life. Engaging in leisure activities that you are passionate about can boost your mood, keep your mind sharp, and provide a sense of accomplishment. These communities offer the perfect backdrop to reconnect with your interests, meet others who share them, and add a new level of enjoyment to your daily routine. So, take the first step, explore the options available within your community, and relish in the hobbies that make your heart sing.
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