Celebrate American Heart Month by visiting your favorite MetroPark this February!
According to the American Heart Association, the best way to battle heart disease is by maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy diet. Whether you hike, bike, run or paddle, there are myriad outdoor activities that can help you achieve your heart health goals.
1. Hit the trails: The American Heart Association reports three to four 40-minute exercise sessions per week at moderate to vigorous intensity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep people at a healthy weight. Trails are the perfect public amenity for those who wish to incorporate cardio into their workout routine.
The Dayton region is home to the nation’s largest paved trail network, with more than 300 miles of trails to explore. Five Rivers MetroParks features 75 miles of natural surface trails, perfect for hiking and trail running. The Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail, the largest water trail system in Ohio, offers 291 miles of waterway accessible trails, with 265 miles located in the Dayton region. This diverse array of trails allows visitors to switch their workout sessions and customize difficulty according to fitness level.
2. Guided programs: Take a break from your typical workout routine to explore the great outdoors with MetroParks professionals as your guide! With year-round programming for all interests and abilities, there is always something to help get your heart pumping. From Fitness in the Park to the Bike for the Health of It challenge, MetroParks fitness programs keep you motivated and give you the opportunity to learn something new. Check out the following fitness programs this spring:
Multiple dates starting in April: Bike for the Health of It
Thursday, March 23: Backpacking 1
Saturday, April 22, through Sunday, April 23: Backpacking 2*
Most Saturdays from May to September: Fitness in the Park
Friday, May 19: National Bike to Work Day Pancake Breakfast
*Prerequisite required: Backpacking 1. Learn more at www.metroparks.org.
3. Say goodbye to stress: Stress may affect factors that increase your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. The good news? Exercise – especially in the outdoors – makes you happier and healthier! The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise releases the “feel good” chemicals in your brain, and Harvard Health states outdoor activity boosts your mood.
4. Wholesome eats: The American Heart Association emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet, which includes a variety of fruits and veggies; whole grains; low-fat dairy; skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes; and non-tropical vegetable oils. Visit the 2nd Street Market to find fresh, wholesome food that is both nutritious and locally produced. Buying fresh and local is not only good for your health; it’s good for the environment too, as locally grown produce is often less taxing on the environment.
MetroParks Tip: Check out MetroParks’ gardening programs and learn some new skills that you can use in your own garden. Gardening gets you active, outdoors and enjoying your own produce throughout the growing season.
Consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet and fitness routine. Learn more about Five Rivers MetroParks at www.metroparks.org.