One simple thing can boost your immune system, protect against a wide range of diseases and disorders and generally make you healthier and happier. A pill? Some special diet? Miracle surgery? No. It’s way simpler and better than that. Think nature. Parks. Greenbelts. And being outside. In a 2015 review of hundreds of studies, scientists found multiple connections between encounters with nature and good health. Being outdoors helps:
- Keep us fit,
- Provides important Vitamin D,
- Encourages social interactions,
- Improves our sleep and
- Even boosts creativity and critical thinking skills.
Our stress levels and our blood pressure fall when we go outside in green areas. Our memories improve, too. Even better, if you walk while taking in the green, this weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones as well as muscles.
Austin Area Nature Escapes This is especially good news in Austin, where a daily nature inoculation is an easy goal. Try taking one of these places daily:
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail Ten-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake with plenty of trees and other vegetation. Looking for a shorter passage but the same scenery? Check out this map with different length routes of the trail.
Barton Creek Greenbelt More than seven miles of wooded trail along the creek, with multiple access points.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park A three-mile, dog-friendly trail plus camping, picnicking, a fishing pier and swim beach on Lake Austin.
Balcones Canyonlands This hill country National Wildlife Refuge has several rugged trails at its Doeskin Ranch tract.
McKinney Falls State Park Nine miles of easy trails, picnic areas, camping, swimming and fishing, just a few miles from downtown.
Pedernales State Falls Park Camping, hiking, canoeing and riding horses are some of the many things you can do at Pedernales State Falls. Trails ranging from 0.5 miles to 10 miles makes it easy to find a suitable route.
Inks Lake State Park Nearly eight miles of hiking trails as well as swimming, fishing and kayak, canoe and paddle boat rentals.