The Buzz

Need a good reason to take a hike? Here are five

(Photo by Chad Merda)

"Take a hike" may not usually be intended as a kind suggestion, but you're certainly free to take it as one and use it as an opportunity to hit the trails and take advantage of all of the good you can get from a hike.

Not sure where to go? Visit your nearest forest preserve. We've got miles and miles of hiking trails criss-crossing the county. Here are five reasons to make time for a hike. 

It's good for your physical health

Hiking is great exercise and can be a good cardiovascular workout. This is especially true if you're hiking a trail or path with a few hills or inclines, because these will make your heart work harder, according to Harvard Medical School

It's not just your heart that's getting a good workout. Hiking can also build stronger and healthier bones and muscles and improve your sense of balance. When done regularly, it can decrease the risk of respiratory conditions as well, reports the National Park Service

And your mental health

It's not a stretch to say that hiking is as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. In fact, spending two hours a week outside provides a significant boost to your mental health and well-being, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.  

Among the many beneficial effects of time spent in the great outdoors is the lowering of stress levels, notes Harvard Medical School. And because stress can affect your physical health — increasing your blood pressure and, in turn, your risk of heart disease — making time for a hike is good for your body and soul.

It's a great, big, beautiful world out there

Sure, the Grand Canyon is a stunning sight to behold, but you don't have to travel far from home to be inspired by all of the beauty in nature. There's plenty to see right here in Will County, along the Forest Preserve District's more than 130 miles of trails.

Whether you want to hike in the woods or in the prairie or along a creek or a pond, you're sure to be impressed with all the forest preserves have to offer. Not sure where to go? Try these best places to hike in Will County.

CHECK OUT OUR UPCOMING HIKING PROGRAMS

It can strengthen bonds

If you're heading out for a hike today, ask a friend or family member to join you. Hiking with a partner or with a group of people can help strengthen your relationships, according to the National Park Service. Even a strenuous hike is a casual way to spend time with people, and it gives you something to focus on while also talking about other things going on in your lives. 

Hiking with a partner or group is good for your safety too. The Forest Preserve encourages trail users to travel with a buddy as a best practice. If you're traveling alone, make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Time is running out to complete your Woods Walk hikes

The Forest Preserve's popular Woods Walk program ends Nov. 30, so you have less than two weeks to hit the trails and complete your travel log.

The program highlights 10 preserve trails in every corner of the county, ranging in length from 1.48 miles to 4 miles. To participate in the program, pick up a Woods Walk hiking guide at one of five visitor centers: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook, Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville, Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township and Sugar Creek Administration Center in Joliet. You also can download the guide.

Participants who walk seven of 10 designated trails by the Nov. 30 deadline and turn in their travel logs by Dec. 31 will receive a collector’s medallion. Travel logs can be completed and submitted online, mailed in or brought in to one of the participating visitor centers.

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