Looking for motivation to increase time spent walking? Consider joining the Cook County Department of Public Health’s (CCDPH) Go the Distance, Cook County initiative! The campaign asks participants to commit to increasing the amount of time spent walking, while encouraging people to invite family and friends to join them in their efforts.
According to CCDPH, walking is an excellent way to lift your mood, improve learning and concentration, explore your community, and build strong bodies while building friendships.
“Many times, we don’t reward ourselves with the benefit of a 30-minute walk three to five times a week. These walks can give us that needed burst of energy to take us through the day. Most people associate walking with the ultimate goal of losing weight, but there are other benefits, too,” explains April Tolbert and Bridgett Carter, CCDPH Health Educators, and staff leads for Go the Distance, Cook County. “Taking a 30-minute walk break from your desk can undoubtedly make you feel better and give you some mental clarity. In fact, regular brisk walking can prevent or manage various ongoing health conditions, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your balance and coordination and improve your mood!”
The Forest Preserves are a great place to participate in the Go the Distance, Cook County campaign. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration to get walking in the Forest Preserves, check out the suggestions below:
- Explore a trail system. There are more than 300 miles of paved and unpaved trails that weave through some of Cook County’s highest-quality natural areas.
- Visit a Nature Center. Before or after walking one of the Forest Preserve Nature Centers’ loop trails, walkers can learn about local geology and natural history inside the exhibit buildings.
- Attend a #BirdThePreserves guided bird walk. At Forest Preserves Nature Centers and various preserves throughout the county, Go the Distance, Cook County participants can get in some walking minutes while trying to spot native and migrant birds.
- Hit the links at a Forest Preserves’ golf course. There are 10 Forest Preserves golf courses throughout Cook County, offering an excellent place to enjoy a round of golf in a serene setting.
- Join in a volunteer workday. In addition to walking around a site, you’ll be helping restore habitats and improve the environment by removing invasive species, cleaning up litter and more. Visit fpdcc.com/volunteer to find an upcoming workday.
In addition to encouraging participants to explore the natural habitats of Cook County, a major component of the Go the Distance campaign is to connect with family and friends while walking.
“Research [found in the American Journal of Public Health] suggests that connecting with others improves social well-being, social connectedness – opportunities to meet new people, create social ties and even increase the likelihood of staying committed to a physical activity like walking,” explains Tolbert and Carter. “During last year’s campaign, connecting with nature, family and friends proved to be a priceless experience in discovering the wonders of the FPCC. These connections have encouraged Go the Distance walkers to continue their adventure with nature and all of the benefits it has to offer.”
The campaign, now in its second year, kicked off April 1. Participants can log their minutes walked now through September 30. Last year, Cook County residents logged over 187,000 walked minutes in 2016, and nearly 2,200 participants connected to each other via social media.
Ready to take the pledge to go the distance? Visit gothedistancecc.com for more information, tips and ideas on how to connect with other walkers.