Take a walk in the park

by Ruth Griffiths

I live near a city park and I love it. My husband and I chose to build a home on this site partly because of its proximity to the park. I’ve loved living near this park since 1975, but the pandemic has made me more grateful than ever for the park.

A year ago, when we were in deep lockdown, I was trying to provide some homeschooling for my granddaughter.

Her teacher had sent us a schedule but the only thing that really sparked my granddaughter’s interest was going outside …often that was a walk in the park. The snow was piled high and she made believe she was a mountain lion, scaling the icy peaks and growling from lofty heights. Getting out into the frosty fresh air helped to clear her mind, and mine too.

We were there for exercise but it was also a wonderful break for us both. It’s easy to get on each other’s nerves when you are seeing the same people and doing the same things within four walls, day after day after endless day.

Yesterday I heard someone talk about their “mental health walk” and I could instantly empathize. Walking increases metabolism, pumps fresh oxygen to the brain and provides needed exercise for our skeletal muscles. Walking also boosts our immune system… an important benefit during a pandemic.

Perhaps most importantly, walking boosts our mood.

I recall walking home from a long day of work. It was uphill, it was hot and dusty. Passing cars exhausted gases that polluted my lungs. And yet, I was euphoric. With the sun on my face and the wind in my hair I felt fully alive! Walking does that.

Walking near trees and grass is even more beneficial than walking on concrete. The Druids had it right; forests have the ability to heal us body and soul.

According to New York State Department of Conservation, exposure to forests and trees:
• boosts the immune system.
• lowers blood pressure.
• reduces stress.
• improves mood.
• increases ability to focus.
• accelerates recovery from surgery or illness.
• increases energy level.
• improves sleep.

Prince Albert has some wonderful green spaces, large and small. During this pandemic we owe it ourselves to get out and enjoy a walk in the park.