Walking is a definite benefit to health –
By Patricia Beech –
It’s time to shake off the sedentary haze of winter lazies, take the walking shoes out of mothballs, strap the fitness tracker onto your wrist, and head outdoors to experience Adams County’s walking and hiking trails while you’re getting fit.
Debbie Ryan, of the Adams County Creating Healthy Communities Program, encourages local residents to take advantage of the many walking opportunities located across Adams County.
“Some of the top causes of death in Adams County are heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity related diseases,” said Ryan. “Exercise or increased activity help in the fight against these killers,”
Regular walking, like most aerobic activities, is good for you because it strengthens the heart and lungs which increases overall fitness and extends life-expectancy.
It almost sounds too easy- the simple act of walking will make you healthier and add years to your life. Yet a wealth of new research suggests that the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and increase longevity is to move more — and the best way to do that is to walk.
Low-impact walking sites available to Adams County residents include the convenient fitness trails at each of the Ohio Valley District schools. The concrete walk
ways are each one half mile long and are interspersed with exercise equipment for those who want to amp up their workout. Additionally, the Manchester school district has an active Walking Club, and each area high school has a ¼ mile oval rubberized track available to walkers, joggers, and runners.
While many people take up walking in hopes of getting fit or losing a little weight, many others say it is a surprisingly enjoyable habit. That’s because walking is so much more than a way to move your body and burn calories, it also has a number of benefits for your mental health.
Whether you’re feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, or low on energy, walking can make a significant difference in your mood and your outlook. Nature walks in particular change the workings of the brain in ways that improve mental health, according to a new study which examined the physical effects nature has on the brain.
“There have been many studies on the mental benefits of exercising outdoors including feelings of revitalization, increased energy, positive attitudes, and lowered anger and depression symptoms,” said Leeann Puckett of the Health and Wellness Coalition. “We are very fortunate in Adams County to have nature as a natural stress reliever.”
Adams County offers several spectacular nature walks.
The Adams Lake State Nature Preserve in West Union has two short-loop hiking trails approximately 1/2-mile long: The Prairie Dock Trail which features small prairie openings and the Post Oak Trail which offers a short trek through an oak-hickory forest. Both are considered easy hikes.
The 3/4-mile Hawk Hill Loop Trail that winds through the Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve in West Union is also considered an easy hike. For those who want more of a challenge, the fire break trail around the perimeter of the preserve adds an additional mile of hiking. The prairie’s brilliant display of wildflowers is best viewed during July and August.
The 88-acre Davis Memorial State Nature Preserve in Peebles offers exceptional scenic beauty for walkers. The park contains two loop trails, each approximately one-half mile long that connect with the Buckeye Trail for a total of two miles of hiking. The trails, which vary from easy to moderate, allow for close viewing of botanical life and interesting geological formations.
The Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is a private preserve of 18,000 acres of forest, prairies, waterfalls, gorges, and mountains, containing over 100 rare species of plants and animals. It is administered jointly by the Nature Conservancy and the Cincinnati Museum Center. The preserve contains and protects such local landmarks as Buzzards Roost, Cedar Falls, Red Rock, The Swirl Hole, and Lynx Prairie.
The preserve has four hiking trails open to the public, all are marked and well maintained.
The Lynx Prairie Trail is a 1.6 mile round loop trail. The park is a National Natural Landmark and is best viewed in late summer when the prairie is blooming. It’s an easy hike that features over 200 species of plants and prairie flowers.
Wilderness Trail is a 2.5 mile loop trail. A moderate hike through the 1,200 acre preserve will reveal an unbroken forest with limestone cliffs and over 50 rare plants and flowers, considered to be a good spring and fall hike
The Buzzardroost Rock Trail is a 4.5-mile round-trip. Perhaps the most popular hike in Adams County, the strenuous three mile trek to the “Roost” and back rewards hikers with a spectacular view of Brush Creek Valley at the trail’s end. Spring wildflowers, fall colors, and the surrounding landscape year-round lays bare all the area’s unique geological features.
The 1.5-mile Joan Portman Trail provides a panoramic view of the Ohio Brush Creek Valley and extends through both prairie and forest.
The 270-acre Robert A. Whipple State Nature Preserve, located at 1194 St. Rt. 247, approximately one mile north of State Rte. 52, features a moderate 1 ¾ mile hike with views of the Ohio River Valley during the winter months.
The Shoemaker State Nature Preserve near Peebles is Adams County’s newest preserve featuring natural arches, dolomite cliffs and slump blocks. The 1.5-mile hiking trail follows Cedar Fork, a tributary of Scioto Brush Creek, and is considered a moderate hike.
Serpent Mound Park located on State Rte. 73 north of Peebles and not only offers the largest and finest serpent effigy in the United States, but also features a short ¼-mile trail that winds down hill to the Ohio Brush Creek Valley. The trail is considered a moderate hike and is best viewed during early spring when trilliums cover the hillsides.
“Whether it be walking around the great serpent, hiking on the nature conservancy trails, or working out on the fitness trails at the schools, there are many opportunities in the county for families to get outside and enjoy nature in all its beauty,” said Puckett. “All you need is a pair of good walking shoes.”