For those of us in the cooler parts of the world, the urge to get outside gets stronger the warmer and sunnier it gets. I work at home and see all the birds and squirrels running around, and it makes me want to work outside. Which I do sometimes. But I cannot do it often because I get distracted and end up watching the wildlife rather than working. Anyway, by March 30th, the weather should be pretty warm for almost everyone, so it is time to choose your park to take a walk in.
Choosing a Park
One of the things you want to think about when choosing a park to walk in is your abilities. If you are someone like me who sits all day, you may want to start slow and easy. Choose a park with a nice, paved path less than a half-mile long. No hills or steps. Just a nice easy walk. Nothing that is going to wear you out. Take it easy for the first few weeks.
How Long Do You Have?
You also want to think about how much time you want to spend on your walk. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a couch potato like me, make sure your park choice has a walk that can be done in the time you like. Some trails can take several hours and if you are just wanting to take a short stroll, that kind of trail will not do.
Choose Your Terrain
If you want a workout and have the right shoes, try a lengthier trail with some hills and slopes. Walking up a hill with a 20% slope takes over a third more energy than a flat surface. That means you are burning more calories and building more muscle, which are both very good things. But make sure you are up for it. Do not tackle a seriously challenging hike alone if you are not used to it.
Do You Want to Walk Alone?
Sometimes you just want the peace and quiet of a nice walk in the woods by yourself. Walking increases your endorphin levels, which makes you feel better. Endorphins are those happy hormones that increase your feel-good levels. Just a 15-minute walk can put you in a better mood, decreasing stress as well as depression.
Walk with a Friend
Sometimes it is nice to walk with someone else like a friend or family member. Or even your dog. This can keep you from becoming bored and it can also be safer. First, because you will have someone there in case you fall or hurt yourself some other way. Second, because some trails are not safe to walk alone. Criminals can be lurking in certain parks just waiting for a lone hiker. Don’t be that lone hiker.
Take the Kids or Grandkids
Get the little ones involved. They can learn as you walk by using all five senses. Help them identify certain plants and flowers with an app on your phone. Let them take pictures of the cool things they see. Smell the fragrances and let them touch some of the ones you know are safe. Look for birds and use an app to find the species. You can even look for some neat insects to photograph and identify. Kids love bugs.
But if you take the kids, make sure the trail you are going to walk on is suitable. You do not want to take them on a long or strenuous hike that can be too much for them. And some trails are dangerous with cliffs and steep hills or rocky terrain.
Always Be Prepared
No matter whether you have kids with you or not, you should bring along some basic necessities. Even if you are just going for a short and easy walk, you should have some things with you just in case. Some of the items you may need include:
- Water (one bottle per person)
- Energy bars or trail mix
- A first aid kit with bandages, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic wipes, burn cream, ibuprofen, insect spray, sunscreen, and tweezers
- Knife or multi-tool
- A compass and map
- An extra jacket or long-sleeved shirt
- Extra socks
- A backpack to put all this in
Take a Virtual Walk
Even though you may not get the benefits of the fresh air and exercise, you can do a virtual walk in the park if you cannot get outside that day. Maybe the weather is bad, or you have a broken leg or something. Many of the national parks have virtual tours that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. You can even visit Yellowstone Park or the Virgin Islands.
What is National Take a Walk in the Park Day?
This special day was introduced to get people to connect with nature. However, nobody seems to know who started this fantastic “holiday” or when it started. Apparently, one day someone decided we should all go for a walk in the park on March 30th and the idea stuck. Now it is celebrated all over the world. It is strange that nobody knows how it started. If you know or have some idea how it began, let us know in the comment section, please.