If your New Year’s resolutions include mindfulness, exercise or getting outdoors more often (maybe even all three), we suggest you take a hike — in one of Texas’ beautiful state parks. First Day Hikes is a state-wide program that encourages hiking on New Year’s Day. Near Bryson you can hike Pedernales and McKinney Falls state parks. Choose one and reap the benefits of a good, long hike.
Participating State Parks Near Bryson
Beautiful Pedernales will offer guided and self-guided hikes. At 8:30 a.m. join other hikers for a guided tour of Pedernales Falls trail. Not an early riser? That’s okay, there will be a tour of the 1.5-mile Hackenburg Loop Trail at noon. Finish either hike at the picnic area at 3 p.m. for a roaring campfire and classic first hike traditions.
If you prefer to go out with just friends and family, several trails will be open for self-guided tours. Hike Hackenburg Loop, Wolf Mountain or the challenging 5.5 Mile Loop Trail. Find the hidden First Day animals scattered on the trail and earn a gift.
McKinney Falls State Park will be offering self-guided hikes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stop by the visitor center to get your map and receive a free First Day Hike sticker.
Benefits of Hiking
There are many benefits to digging out those hiking boots. Hikes or any other type of walking can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and reduce depression. Here are just a few reasons to take a hike.
Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Hiking is exercise and exercise can reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Hikes involve walking and climbing. Regular hiking strengthens your heart which increases the efficiency with which your muscles can extract oxygen from your blood. All of which has been shown to reduce mortality rates.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Hypertension is the “silent killer” because many people don’t even know they have it. High blood pressure raises your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Regular exercise has been shown to be as effective as a full dose of anti-hypertensive medication at lowering blood pressure.
An estimated 1 in 10 people have diabetes. Most diabetics are on medication but being active can help medication do its work by lowering your blood sugar levels.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Walking, hiking and exercise in general helps your brain produce feel-good endorphins. Being out in nature has been found to be very therapeutic. Breathing fresh air and watching wild animals all contribute to feelings of calm and peacefulness. High levels of activity help you sleep better which also decreases anxiety and depression.
Helps With Balance
As we get older, our balance changes and not for the better. Hiking forces us to adjust to different terrain as we walk. Not only will you be able to sense the change to your center of gravity and adjust accordingly, but you will also strengthen muscles that contribute to keeping you from falling over.
Think hiking is too hard on aching joints? Think again. If it isn’t overly strenuous, hiking does not put a lot of stress on joints. Regular activity can reduce pain and stiffness. As an added benefit, regular hiking will get your heart rate up which contributes to burning calories.