One of the benefits of working at WLCT is the ability to get outside and walk the talk. Our offices are located in the historic Kirby House at Westport Woods Conservation Park and the trails here provide just the right amount of variety for a daily walk.
When the day allows for it, I try to explore outside. If we get a light dusting of snow or an unseasonably warm day, I never hesitate to shift outside for inspiration and a ramble. Some facts to inspire
your exploration in Westport’s outdoors:
- Fresh air. Breathing deeply helps oxygenate your brain and the rest of your body. Clearing the stale air in the bottom third of your lungs can be as reinvigorating as a spa day!
- Vitamin D. Humans need this vitamin to absorb calcium, and we need more as we age. Just 15 minutes outdoors, even when it’s overcast, is enough sunlight for your body to convert the vitamin D it needs.
- Better balance. When we sit for long periods of time, our body sort of forgets how to make the micro-adjustments necessary to keep good balance. Walking trails, with their uneven gradations, can be challenging. However, even the smooth carriage paths at Westport Woods provide the opportunity for moving muscles that need practice.
- Without getting too personal, walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which we also need more of as we age, to protect our bones from deteriorating.
More than healthy bodies
Walking helps us think. The bipedal motion of walking helps regulate our brain, shuffling the grey matter enough to reorganize thoughts. This short article from Inc.com sums up the benefits of walking1:
- walking stimulates connectivity between brain cells
- the rhythm created by our feet mirrors our thoughts and our breath, so walkers can change the pace of their thoughts by changing their gait
- walking holds only part of our attention, allowing the mind to wander–perhaps why some of society’s most creative people are also walkers!
We see differently in Winter. The lower angle of the sun helps the eye to focus on different aspects of what might be a familiar walk in summer or fall. Without the ferns and clethra that cover most of our trails, you can see the contours of the land. At Westport Woods, the rocks seem to come alive in late winter, their green lichen and moss startling against the brown oak leaves.
Life emerges. Without the muffling of leaves, a walker can hear overwintering birds. With the February days getting longer, we’re starting to see migrants here in Westport. Soon the hot heads of skunk cabbage will push past the leaf litter in our boggy woods, followed by spring ephemerals and hardier plants like marsh marigold. But that’s for March, maybe April. Just now it’s enough to wander the sleeping woods, breathing in the damp air, and listening to the crackle of leaves.
Westport Land Conservation Trust’s public access properties are made for walking. Westport Woods boasts smooth carriage paths through the meadows and longer trails that meander. Old Harbor provides a gentle incline, while Mill Pond and Forge Pond have ridge lines that will get your heart beating a little faster, as well as fast moving water features that excite the mind, as does Brookside. Herb Hadfield and Dunham’s Brook offer meadow views, while Noquochoke, Camara and Headwaters are great for dog walkers on a tight schedule.
You don’t have to walk alone! Join us for upcoming walks: February 11th for our annual Super Bowl Walk and February 17th for the first of 4 seasonal walks at Dunham’s Brook.