Did you know Iowa has more than 70 state parks? Iowa State Parks celebrated their centennial in 2020. Didn’t make it to the celebration? That’s okay! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources still has “20 Walks in 2020” mapped routes, www.iowadnr.gov, to help you explore 20 of Iowa’s state parks. These routes are ideal for one or a small group or family.
Iowa By Trail is an app providing interactive maps for 2,000+ miles of Iowa trails. Users can fnd the closest trail to their current position. The app also provides other points of interest along the route, including museums, natural resources, and local restaurants.
What are you waiting for? Get out and walk or bike the trails this summer! You can also enjoy these other activities in Iowa parks:
We have heard a lot about the benefits of walking, but sometimes it seems boring to walk the same route all the time. There are ways to make it more interesting for everyone. Examples include the following:
Research community history and explore it on a walk.
Have you wondered about an interesting house or building in your community? Check with your local public library; they may have information about community history.
Another idea is to listen to a podcast or an audiobook on your walk. There are many interesting podcasts—some are educational, inspiring, or entertaining. Audiobooks are also available through most public library apps, including Libby and Overdrive, as well as paid services.
Keep these safety tips in mind when walking:
Let someone know where you are going.
Take a cell phone.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Take a walking buddy for companionship.
Keep the volume of your headphones at a reasonable level so you can hear others, cars, etc.
The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website has new physical activity videos. These are a great way to learn some new exercises. They can even serve as your virtual workout partner. They allow you to explore several types of workouts.
Like any good workout partner, these videos will also supply you with motivational tips to keep you going!
Go to Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity/, to check them out.
Have you heard about HIIT workouts? High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates bursts of high-intensity effort with short recovery periods. It improves overall fitness, heart health, and body fat. People of all fitness levels can try this type of training. You can use it in cycling, walking, swimming, and group exercise classes. Workouts are generally shorter. They also burn more calories in the two hours after the workout.
Our bodies are built to move. There are many benefits to being active throughout the day. Moving your body for just 3–5 minutes every 30–60 minutes improves nearly every system in the body.
Studies show that moving for a few minutes every 30 minutes or so
Increases energy levels,
Promotes better blood flow,
Improves posture, and
Get your body moving by taking a stroll away from your work area. Stretch muscles that feel tense. Shake your arms and legs or do simple exercises in your workspace. For example, you could do wall push-ups, repeatedly standing from your chair.
If you sit more than 30 minutes at a time for more than six hours a day, you are at higher risk of death from all causes. Even an hour of physical activity daily cannot undo the damage caused by too much sitting.
You can lower your health risk by standing up for only a few minutes every half hour. One way to make sure you do this is to get a free reminder app for your laptop or smart phone. With a reminder app, you decide how often you want to take a break from work to stand, stretch, walk around, or do some aerobic or resistance exercises.
Visit Whole Family Living, www.wholefamilyliving.com/apps-to-helpyou- move-more-at-work/, for a review of the many reminder apps available.
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt. It takes people to places they otherwise may have never gone. It’s a low-cost way for the whole family to stay active. You can enjoy outdoor adventures year-round. In fact, winter can be the best time to geocache—no bugs and fewer people!
To get started, set up a free account at Geocaching (geocaching.com/play). Download the app to your smartphone or purchase a GPS unit. In the app, you will see a map of all the caches. You can either choose to search for caches near you or browse for other locations you want to explore.
What you will find may be a very small pill container or a larger plastic container. Some will be harder to find than others, but they are never buried. Inside will be a log to sign. There might also be “swag” like geodes, stickers, patches, pins, marbles, keychains, lanyards, and geocoins. Visit geocaching.com for success tips and discover what is hiding near you!
When the sun shines less in fall and winter, that can depress our mood. Regular physical activity lifts our spirits by releasing feel-good endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of activity three to fve days a week. You can engage in three 10-minute bouts of activity a day, if 30 minutes all at once is daunting. Try these ideas for indoor physical activity during the cold and icy months:
Turn on the radio and dance.
March in place while watching your favorite TV show.
Set an alarm to walk around your house or office every hour during the day.
Use workout videos.
Explore streaming channels to find those that are free.
Hiking is great for physical health. It also improves mental health! It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. According to a Stanford study, walking for 90 minutes in nature, instead of an urban setting, decreases activity in the brain linked to depression.