Volume 12, Issue 40 ~ September 30-October 6 2004
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Walk This Way
by Robert L. Cramer

The next time someone tells you to take a hike, do it!

An invigorating jaunt along one of the many attractive and inviting hiking trails in the Bay area offers an ideal opportunity to fully appreciate the natural beauty that abounds here.

Health experts have been telling us for years that a brisk walk can help strengthen our bodies and relax our minds. But there’s another important benefit of walking that is often overlooked: It can offer a spiritual lift by acquainting you with the great outdoors, where you will find yourself inspired by the many wonders of nature.

The physical benefits of walking have been documented many times over. Fitness experts at the Mayo Clinic tell us that a 150-pound person can burn off 210 calories by walking two miles an hour, 280 calories at three mph and 385 calories at four and a half mph.

Walking improves muscle tone and can prevent age-related diseases. Research has discovered that walking increases bone density and may even lower the risk of osteoporosis.

Walking has also been proven to ease stress, promoting a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. And you don’t have to be an environmentally correct tree-hugger to appreciate the emotional benefits that walking can provide. Your spirits can soar when you are exposed to the beauty of a flowering tree, a bed of budding flowers, the friendly buzz of a busy bee or the ballad of a singing bird as it welcomes you to its turf.

Chances are there is a walking/hiking trail within a short drive from where you live. They range from narrow pathways through leafy wooded areas to wide, paved ribbons of concrete or asphalt. Follow them and they will take you on a meandering trek through scenic milieus landscaped primarily by nature but with a helping hand from humans who have learned how to partner with nature in the creation of a soul-satisfying ambiance.

Some trails are short and some are long. Some offer a round trip that ends where it started, while others are so challenging they may be impossible to navigate in one outing. But short or long, each trail helps to demonstrate what people can accomplish by working in harmony with the environment for the good of the community and its citizens.

Here are some paths to consider: A network of trails known as the Annapolis Pathway includes the recently opened Stadium Trail that winds around the Naval Academy Stadium. Also in Annapolis are nature trails at Truxton Park off Hilltop Lane and at Back Creek Park off of Edgewood Road. For a secluded trail, seek access to Waterworks Park, located off of Route 450, one mile west of Annapolis Mall. For more paths and information, call Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks at 410-222-7867 or go on line at aacounty.org/recparks.

In Calvert County there are hiking trails at Cove Point Park, Dunkirk District Park, Hallowing Point Park and at King’s Landing Park. For more paths and information, call the county’s recreation department at 410-535-1600, or go on the county’s web site at co.cal.md.us/recreation.

And remember, fresh air is everywhere. You might even try blazing new trails close to home. Nature isn’t always limited to wooded trails and wild-flowered dirt paths. Take a walk through your own neighborhood and you may find yourself admiring sights that you overlooked while hurriedly driving down the same streets — like the well-kept homes, the manicured lawns and those colorful flower gardens. You may even meet new people and make new friends.

So go ahead, take a hike. It will help put your body, mind and soul in sync.

Robert L. Cramer writes from Annapolis. Retired after many years in journalism, he has also written four musical comedies for community theaters and ghostwritten four books.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.