Want a work-out routine where you’re so focused on your surroundings that you don’t even realize you’re exercising?  Where your pulse quickens as much by the sight of a gorgeous maple in full color as it does by the strides needed to reach it?  Hiking is the ultimate synergistic interaction of exercising and sight-seeing.  Whether it’s with a family member or friend, or with man’s best friend, there’s nothing quite like being able to breathe in the fresh outdoor air, enjoy the changing of the seasons and increase your fitness level.  Hiking tones and works out the whole body.  It helps lower your blood sugar by moving glucose from your bloodstream to your muscles giving them energy.  It also decreases blood pressure and cholesterol, thereby reducing the danger of heart disease, diabetes and stroke for those who are at risk.  These are all direct benefits of walking park trails.

A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that long distance hiking may improve antioxidative capacity, which helps fight off disease.  Another study showed that breast cancer survivors who exercised regularly — many in the form of hiking — believed that physical activity complemented their recovery from cancer treatment. Not only does hiking improve physical fitness but also mental fitness.  Creativity and problem-solving skills improved as well as increasing levels of happiness and curbing tendencies toward depression.

Autumn is generally the best time of year for hiking. With cooler temperatures and dryer ground, you can enjoy the fall colors anywhere you care to hike.  Now that you recognize the extreme benefits of putting one foot in front of the other on uneven ground, here are some places to go for hikes that are not too far away.

 

CENTRAL PARK

Central Park is located 1/2 mile east of College Ave and 111th Street in Carmel. The park is open free of charge to the public. This massive, 161-acre park has a multi-use trail that connects to the Monon Trail.

 

FLOWING WELL PARK

Flowing Well Park is located approximately 1/4 mile east of 116th Street and Gray Road. It is an 18-acre facility that offers a fun nature trail, and a 1-mile paved trail.

 

FOUNDERS PARK

Founders Park is situated around 1/4 mile east of 116th Street and Hazel Dell Pkwy. This huge, 39-acre park offers  plenty of walking trails as well as a beautiful pond and boardwalk.

 

COOL CREEK PARK

Cool Creek Park and Nature Center is one of the most popular parks in Hamilton County. This 90-acre park located just east of US 31 on 151st Street has approximately four miles of woodland trails great for hiking or bird watching. The park also features a paved path within the park.  Cool Creek is open dawn to dusk 365 days a year.

 

RICHEY WOODS

Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve, located at 10410 Hague Road in Fishers, is approximately 127 acres: 42 acres is an Indiana State Designated Nature Preserve and the remaining 85 acres is under a conservation easement governed by the Department of Natural Resources. The Preserve offers ten different trails totaling 2.25 miles and is open every day from dawn to dusk.

 

INDIANA STATE PARKS

For experienced hikers or those who want to stretch themselves, Indiana’s State Parks are ideal for hiking. Every park has a trail map that shows in detail the length and difficulty level as well as what you will see along the way.  There are 25 state parks in Indiana, so you won’t run out of places to go anytime soon.

Before going out on any hike, make sure you have good fitting shoes and dress in layers.  Stay hydrated and take along some trail mix for the trek. Take breaks when you need to and use those moments to look all around you at the beauty of nature on full display.

 

Pam Klink

Member Specialist

Motion 4 Life Fitness

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