Thursday, April 14, 2016

Walking (In Nature) Does a Body Good

Feeling great after a short hike this morning with Adriana (on the Jug Island trail again). I'm definitely more clear-headed, energetic, and full of oxygen and optimism. Walking in nature has been proven to help lower the brain's ability to "morbidly ruminate," a type of frontal cortex activity which has been linked to depression, while walking along a highway offers no such restriction on this type of unfortunate brain (mal?)functioning. Heck, being in nature is the best, but walking anywhere has also been proven to reduce the chance of developing breast cancer. Pretty cool. 

On Sunday we hiked around Buntzen Lake, also in Belcarra:
Buntzen Lake, north end
It's a fairly flat (with some rolling elevation gain on the west side), 8 km/2 hour trail that winds through woods and along a gravel road, all around the edge of the lake, and offers really gorgeous water and forest views with a nice beach and fun suspension bridge at the far end. Flush toilets are available at the start, near the parking lot, where there are also picnic tables and a fenced-in dog off-leash area on the beach, and there are clean pit toilets at the far end. 

It was cloudy when we hiked, but a perfect temp to avoid over-heating, and we didn't have to worry about sunscreen or sunglasses. I love this trail, and have done it many times, with plans to keep coming back for more in between our longer and more daring trail quests this season. 

Hiking (and walking generally) has many benefits, not the least of which is the pure enjoyment of being outdoors, in nature. Having a goal, like getting in shape for the West Coast Trail, helps to get me out there on a weekly basis, but it's more than about just having an end goal. There's an intrinsic motivation to exercise when it's fun and enjoyable, and that's ultimately what will work to keep anyone moving rather than giving up on a newly established exercise routine. But don't take my word for it. Check out this great article on how to hack your brain to get your body moving and get in great shape.

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