Exploring the great outdoors

Jaya Davis

As you’ve learned in the 100 miles 100 days series, walking is great for your health for so many reasons. Summer months are a wonderful time to get your walks in and be outdoors. Being outdoors also has some important health benefits.

Have you heard of “vitamin N?” N stands for nature. The health benefits of nature are becoming more and more apparent, especially as we are becoming more and more of an indoor society. In Japan, a concept called “forest bathing” was introduced as part of a public health program in 1982. This is a little different than getting enough physical activity. Forest bathing: “just be with trees, no hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.” The Center for Environment, Health, and Field Sciences in Japan reported “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.”

With all these green trees in Vermont, we could implement a “forest bathing” program ourselves. So the next time you head out for a walk, go stroll among the trees and bathe in the nature. You can find them in Pine Hill, around the Rutland Regional Medical Center loop or Patch Pond, and along East Creek Path to name a few. You could even head to the state parks in the area to immerse yourself in trees.

Some of the state parks closest to the Rutland area are:

  • Bomoseen: hike from this state park to another state park called Half Moon, or play a volleyball game!
  • Branbury: swim at the natural and sandy beach of Lake Dunmore. Rent canoes, kayaks, or pedal boats for fun!
  • Gifford Woods: check out Kent Brook Trail’s 1.1 mile loop and the Appalachian Trail. Start a game of horseshoes in the park.
  • Lake St. Catherine: participate in the Reel Fun Program and catch some fish, or check out a nature program to learn more about plants and wildlife.

There are 55 state parks in the state of Vermont and so many activities you can do outdoors to stay active. For more information on each state park visit www.vtstateparks.com. Check out these great parks and enjoy the nature!

To arm yourself for the great outdoors here are a few tips to remember:

  • Watch for ticks. Wear long sleeves and pants and light-colored clothes so you can check for ticks more easily. Check yourself before heading back inside.
  • If you are susceptible to overheating, head outdoors early in the morning or near evening to avoid the hot sunshine.
  • A walk in the woods on a hot, sunny day may be just the right idea, so you can stay in the shade of the trees.
  • Drink plenty of cool liquids throughout hot days and during your walk.
  • Wear light-colored clothing and moisture-wicking materials to evaporate the sweat more quickly.

August is upon us and the summer months are going by. It is a good idea to get outdoors while you can. Take a walk, enjoy nature, and bathe in the forest of trees.