Get Healthy: Take steps to Get Healthy
Carson City Health and Human Services
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
As exercise goes, walking is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to get and stay fit.
People learn to walk as young children, but as we age, many people walk less and less. Instead, we sit at desks, or in front of a screen, or in our automobiles. Our culture has shifted away from walking, with poor results for our mental and physical well-being. It may be time to take a step towards better health.
Physical activity such as walking can help improve health even without weight loss, although many people who walk do lose some weight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Walking is a great way to get started with an active lifestyle, because you really don’t need any special equipment besides a pair of comfortable shoes.
Luckily, Carson City has great places to walk. All around the city are trails and paths where people can get the exercise they need, also while providing an opportunity to connect with nature. There are nearby options for every skill level and distance, from the beginner-friendly Linear Park Trail at Governors Field to the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. Here are a few you may want to check out:
The Waterfall Trail on the west side of town at the end of King Street rewards hikers with great views of the waterfall and Carson City below.
Riverview Park at the end of 5th Street has a network of trails that allow people to explore near the river, and benches to sit and take a break.
Carson Tahoe Hospital has put in their own trail system with 1-mile, 1/3-mile, and ¼-mile loops. The hospital’s trails are right on campus and they are open to patients and the public!
If you are apprehensive about walking on your own or just need some extra encouragement to get out and start walking, Carson City Parks and Recreation partners with local non-profit Muscle Powered to lead easy walks around the city’s paths and trails. These walks are a great way to connect with other residents and learn new trails. They take place every Tuesday and are open to anyone.
Make sure you are being safe when you walk by following these tips:
Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes that provide enough support. Not only will this make you more comfortable, it could prevent injury.
Protect your skin by wearing sunscreen and long sleeves and pants. You may need to reapply sunscreen if you sweat a lot.
Carry plenty of water with you so you don’t become dehydrated, even if you are only planning for a short walk. You may want to take food along as well.
Use insect repellent if you are going to walk in an area where mosquitoes are prevalent. Check for ticks after you finish hiking.
Be aware there are many wild animals in our area, even near and in town. These include snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, wild horses and bears. While encounters with these animals are rare, be alert to these wild neighbors, keep a safe distance and don’t harass wildlife.
Let someone know you’re going on a walk or hike, where you plan to go, and when you expect to be back. This way, if something happens and you become injured or unable to return, someone knows where to look to rescue you.
Finally, be a good steward of our paths and trails. Don’t litter, pack out your trash with you, or, on urban trails, find a trash receptacle. Additionally, stay on established trails. Don’t take shortcuts, as this may damage the ecosystem around the trail.
Check out http://visitcarsoncity.com/outdooractivities/hiking-trails for information on many of the trails in our community, complete with distances and elevation changes so you can pick a trail that’s appropriate for you. To see the schedule for the Easy Walk Series co-hosted by Carson City Parks and Recreation and Muscle Powered, visit musclepowered.org, and select Calendar.