April is a great month to cure your cabin fever with the healing powers of outdoor activity.
The American Heart Association (AHA) is spearheading a "Move More in April" campaign to publicize the benefits of walking. And the Forest Preserve District of Will County has plenty of walking programs and trail options to explore in 2017.
AHA officials say research has shown that walking at least 30 minutes a day can help you: reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, improve your blood pressure, enhance your mental well-being and reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
Special Forest Preserve programs that could help you get started or propel you farther along on your walking fitness path this year include:
From Thursday, June 1, to Tuesday, Aug. 1, hike a different trail at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve in Crete Township. There are eight hikes to be completed in eight weeks. Record your hikes on a trail challenge sheet. Finish six trails and be included in the Trail Wall of Fame at Plum Creek Nature Center. Finish all of the trails to enter a prize drawing. Registration is not required for this free, all-ages program.
Walk in one of three preserves from 5-6 p.m. every Wednesday starting May 3 and ending September 27. Preserves featured in the program are Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access in Mokena, Rock Run Preserve – Black Road Access in Joliet and Whalon Lake in Naperville. Walking distances will range from 1 to 3 miles depending on the trail, weather and preference of the participant. District staff will kick off the program at each site. Registration is not required for this free, all-ages program.
The Forest Preserve also hosts a wide variety of bird, wildlife, history, night and photography hikes throughout the season. Visit the District's Event Calendar to find a program that will entice you to get moving.
If you want to go free style with your walking program, visit the District's Preserves & Trails page to scope out a trail near you. The Forest Preserve includes 127 miles of trails ranging from asphalt to natural surface throughout the county.
One of the newest trail segments is a 1-mile extension of the DuPage River Trail that opened in October in Naperville. The path segment stretches southwest from the Naperville Park District’s Knoch Knolls Park to the 95th Street bridge over the DuPage River. This new path provides a critical DuPage River Trail link that connects several forest preserves, parks and greenways across southern Naperville.
So pick a path and get moving. Walking is one of the least expensive activities and it has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise, according to the AHA website. The association recommends you wear comfortable clothes and supportive shoes before getting started. Begin with short distances and a slow tempo then work up to a brisk pace. Stretch after your walk is completed. It also helps to record your workout as incentive to keep moving.
The key is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and the forest preserves are a great place to get started.