By Dana Boler
Fall has arrived and what better time to lace up your shoes and go for a hike? The cooler temperatures are perfect for being outdoors and the vibrant colors of the trees make for a beautiful view. For some, hiking can seem like a strenuous exercise and therefore don’t take part. However, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hike is simply defined as “to walk a long distance especially for pleasure or exercise”.
We are fortunate to be in beautiful Bluff Country and also have Beaver Creek Valley State Park in our backyard. Other Minnesota State Parks in our area include Forestville/Mystery Cave, Great River Bluffs, and Whitewater. I’ve been able to visit many of these parks and highly recommend them. You can purchase a year-long Minnesota State Park pass (access to all 75 parks) for only $35 or a day pass is $7. At each park, you’ll find many maps available, trails clearly marked, and help if needed from a staff member at the Park Office. You can also search your park online to find reviews and trail suggestions from others. Visit https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ for more information on Minnesota State Parks.
Benefits of Hiking:
1. Exercise & Health Benefits: There are numerous health benefits associated with hiking including lowering blood pressure, boosting bone density, building strength, improving balance, and it helps control your weight by burning calories. It is a great exercise option that doesn’t seem much like exercise!
2. Unplug and Enjoy Nature: What a wonderful option for unplugging your technology and tuning in with nature! Being outdoors provides many benefits including Vitamin D exposure, limiting stress, and lowering anxiety. If you have limited mobility, you can still get many benefits by visiting a park and enjoying nature. You can also bring a hammock for a nap, a good book, practice yoga or mediation, and pack a picnic. There are many picnic tables and benches located throughout the parks.
3. Connect with Loved Ones or Yourself: Hiking with a friend or loved one can be a perfect time to connect and have some deep conversations. Hiking has been a wonderful pastime for my family (even our 2 and 4 year old boys love it!), especially during COVID. Some trails are stroller accessible and you can also purchase hiking backpacks for carrying children if needed. Solo hiking can be a great time to get in tune with your body and mind and also enjoy some self-care. Your dog would also love a change of scenery for their daily walk! Leashed dogs are allowed on most trails.
If you’ve never hiked, I challenge you to go out of your comfort zone and visit a local Minnesota State Park this fall! If you do hike, I challenge you to choose a new trail or park to visit. Enjoy and Happy Hiking!
I’d love to hear of any nutrition/exercise topics you’d like to learn more about to feature in future columns.
Dana Boler is a mom of two boys and a wife on a mission to help others become their best self. She is a Certified Health Coach with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics. Her practice, B Your Best Wellness Coaching is personalized Health Coaching with mental health, physical activity, and nutrition in mind.
Follow her for more health-related posts on Instagram and Facebook at B Your Best Wellness Coaching and to inquire about Health Coaching.