After a long winter we Long Islanders cannot wait to take advantage of the warmer months on our beautiful island. There is no better way to do this and help meet your health goals than to visit some local hiking trails! Hiking and trail walking has so many great benefits for our bodies. It can improve our cardiovascular fitness, decrease stress and improve mental health.
Physical activity is recommended to improve, and prevent many health conditions. Walking on a trail may be even more beneficial than walking around your neighborhood or on a treadmill. When we walk on uneven surfaces it helps to engage different muscles in the body that may not be utilized with traditional walking. This also forces you to engage your core to help with balance.
Along with your physical health, it is important to check in with your mental health and stress levels. Stress affects our mental health and can also negatively affect our physical health. Physical activity increases the production of neurotransmitters call endorphins that make us feel good. Also, the distraction and meditation-like activity can simply help us to keep our minds off things that may be negatively impacting how we feel.
Here are some important things to remember before hitting the trails:
- Bring a map. Most parks will provide maps at the park entry to help you navigate.
- Wear proper clothing. Sneakers are always the best option when exploring the great outdoors. This will prevent injuries or dirty feet. Long pants are also preferred if possible to avoid any bug bites or scratches.
- Be prepared. Bring a backpack with essentials like water, healthy snacks or a picnic if you will be out for an extended period of time.
- Take breaks. There is no shame in listening what your body is telling you. If you are feeling exhausted or out of breath, take a break and start back up slowly.
- Relax! One of the best parts about hiking is the calmness and serenity of nature. Be sure to take time to appreciate this and let your stressors drift away.
Consider visiting some, or all, of our favorite trails this season!
|Park Name||Location||Family Friendly||Dog Friendly||Bike Friendly||Size|
|Avalon Park and Preserve||Stony Brook||YES||YES||YES||8 acres|
|Quogue Wildlife Refuge||Quogue||YES||NO||NO||300 acres|
|Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park||Great River||YES||NO||NO||691 acres|
|Bailey Arboretum||Lattingtown||YES||YES||NO||42 acres|
|Belmont Lake State Park||North Babylon||YES||YES||YES||463 acres|
|Camp Hero Sate Park||Montauk||YES||YES||YES||415 acres|
|Cold Spring Harbor State Park||Cold Spring Harbor||YES||YES||NO||47 acres|
|Massapequa Preserve||North Massapequa||YES||YES||YES||432 acres|
|Sands Point Preserve||Sands Point||YES||YES||NO||216 acres|
|Eisenhower Park||East Meadow||YES||Dog run areas only||Road Biking||930 acres|
|Sagamore Hill National Historic Site||Oyster Bay||YES||YES||NO||83 acres|
- Please check individual park guidelines in case of any changes
Written by Gigi Ravenhall, RDN