With summer-like weather beckoning you, why not plan to “Go take a hike!” to celebrate National Trails Day this Saturday, June 3. Lake Oswego has a wide variety of walker, runner, biker, pet-friendly pathways to choose from ranging from the scenic seven mile Lake Loop to the Heritage Trail that guides hikers to seven sites in town associated with Oregon’s pioneer iron history.
Once you set foot on one of these trails, you’ll be doing yourself much more of a favor than just stretching your legs. Here are some of the other benefits of getting outdoors:
- Reduced stress. Spending time among the trees like you’ll find on the Iron Mountain Trail can provide stress relief as it did for Japanese university students who spent two nights in the forest in a 2012 study. Test results showed lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation after their time in Mother Nature and lower cortisol levels than a similar group who had spent two dates in the city.
- Improved short term memory. In 2008, the University of Michigan had a group of students perform a memory test and then divided them into two groups. One walked around an arboretum while the other strolled down city streets. Upon their return they were asked to take the test again. The group that walked around in nature improved their scores by almost 20 percent while the urban goers saw little change.
- Increased Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has been credited with everything from bone and cell growth to decreased inflammation so getting your daily dose is important to your overall health. Sunshine is the direct source, setting things in motion once it hits your skin so there is no substitute for getting the real thing.
- Better mood. English scientists analyzed the results of ten studies on the effect of “green exercise” (physical activity done in nature) and mental health and concluded that “Every green environment improved self esteem and mood” among the participants. Throw in water, and the results were even greater. You’ll get that if you walk along the Old River Road Pathway.
For a complete guide to Lake Oswego’s pathways and trails, click here.
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