It is not difficult to find fact based evidence to support the idea that being active in the outdoors carries immeasurable health benefits. CWC encourages our community to get outdoors, hit the trails and recreate for so many reasons. While thinking about the many reasons to get outdoors, we decided to measure some of the physical benefits and try to quantify the health effects of a recreational experience on our trails specifically. This is just the start, but we couldn’t wait to hit the trails and share the results of our first case study with you.
Bundy Hill Preserve offers some of the only dynamic terrain in Isabella County with a public trail system. Therefore, its an exciting destination for local hikers and the perfect place to run our first study. On a brisk March morning, I headed out to Bundy Hill with hiking boots tied tight and my water bottle and fitness tracker in tow. I started my tracker and headed west up the Summit Trail to begin my planned loop. Once my pace was established, a brisk power-walk intended to elevate the heart rate, I fell into a steady rhythm that was comfortable but still felt like work. I wound my way along the curves of the trail, breathing the cool, fresh air into my awakening lungs. I couldn’t help but notice my vivified muscles, particularly the ones in my calves, as the trail began to gain elevation and I refused to compromise my pace. Upon reaching the summit via the 0.81 mile Summit Trail, I began to head back down the hill. Now hiking northeast along the McNeel Trail, the path headed downhill quickly and followed a much more direct route than the sweeping curves I had experienced at the beginning of my loop. My pace was much less steady now, as I kept speeding up to catch up to my balance. I worked my way down the trail at a very quick pace and found myself taking short, choppy steps and using an entirely different group of muscles throughout my body. I quickly reached an open meadow, 0.43 miles down the trail, and began my last stretch of the loop by following the History Trail the final 0.18 miles back to the trail head. This last section featured informational signage and followed a much more level and ambling path. I reached the trail head 29 minutes and 29 seconds after I had initially departed from it.
In my half hour hike I had covered 1.42 miles of hilly and rustic terrain. My fitness tracker blinked stats at me: 361 total calories burned, 54 ft elevation gain, 0.13 mile total ascent, 4.7 mph maximum speed and 3,123 steps! Now these numbers are just my personal results from a one time experiment, but they definitely speak to the fact that outdoor recreation is an excellent work out option. On top of feeling the burn, I was also feeling energized, joyous and calm after spending a half hour breathing fresh air, seeing the sky and surrounding myself by all things natural. I would gladly give my thirty minutes to Bundy Hill over the treadmill at the gym any day. Hiking provides an excellent workout and a respite for our overstimulated minds, so do yourself a favor and get outside for health’s sake