Did you know that Take a Walk in the Park Day happens every year on March 30? The timing is perfect to get outside, enjoy the warming temps, and reconnect with nature. This fun celebration even benefits your health. Here, I explain how. I also included Star earning beverage suggestions so you don’t get too thirsty on your walk.
What do greenspaces have to do with health?
Spending time in greenspaces, like parks, has been linked with health benefits and overall wellbeing in a variety of research studies. A meta-analysis published in Environmental Research, found that increased exposure to greenspaces (either by living close to them or spending time in them) was associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate, and decreased incidences of stroke, hypertension, heart disease and asthma. Some research reviews indicate that exercising outdoors is more beneficial to mental health than exercising indoors. It’s also been found that people exercise longer, more vigorously, and more regularly in greenspaces than in other areas. When exercising outside, they also perceive their activity as being easier. Plus, the fresh air, sunshine, and greenspace of a park makes a simple walk outside more pleasurable.
What are the health benefits from taking short walks?
You don’t have to walk for hours to reap health benefits and you don’t have to be a speed walker either. By walking 30 minutes 5 times per week, you can meet the Center’s for Disease Control’s recommendation for cardio exercise for adults. Or, you could break that up into two 15-minute walks per day or three 10-minutes walks. The key appears to be that you walk “briskly” or at a “moderate intensity”. This means that your breathing quickens enough so you are slightly short of breath, but could still easily carry on a conversation.
Walking as a means of moderate physical activity is linked with the following health benefits: better sleep (more so for women than men, it seems), lower cholesterol and hypertension, weight control, and helping maintain cognitive function and decreasing anxiety. Since walking requires no equipment beyond a pair of shoes, and is one of the easiest forms of physical activity for most people, there are more reasons to walk than not.
What drink should I bring for my walk in the park?
If you’re heading to the park for a walk, it’s a good idea to make sure you have something along to drink—especially if it’s hot outside. It’s recommended that you have access to 2 cups of fluid for every hour of hiking, and that’s a good rule of thumb for walking as well. Of course, water is always a good and convenient choice for hydration—the gold standard, if you will.
The new Guiding Stars Beverage Guidance evaluates waters, along with many other ready-to-drink beverages. This allows you to quickly identify choices that support good health, simply by looking for the Stars as you shop. Beverages that earn 3 Guiding Stars (the best rating) have no added sodium, no sweeteners, and no additives to limit. Of course, there are lots of waters and sparkling waters on that list, but there are other options as well. These include unsweetened seltzers, teas, and cold brew drinks. Here are my picks for hydrating at the park. They are non-carbonated options so you won’t get showered with bubbles when you open your beverage after a bumpy walk!
3-Star beverage options for your walk:
- Any brand of bottled water that you like (or bring water in a reusable bottle from home)
- 100% juice pouches that earn Guiding Stars (great for the kiddos)
- Fruit infused waters (in various flavors like blackberry and watermelon!) that earn Guiding Stars
- Unsweetened ice teas that earn Guiding Stars
- Coconut waters that earn Guiding Stars
Oh, and if you’re looking for easy snack options to tote along, here are some ideas. Have a great time at the park!