Boston may be a metropolitan hub, but if you love to spend time in the great outdoors, there are plenty of local trails and green spaces where you can find your fix. Whether you prefer to pedal, row, or enjoy a leisurely stroll, you’ll reap the benefits of sunshine, fresh air, and improving your cardiovascular fitness. Here are a few of our favorite local places and ways to get outdoors and maintain your healthy lifestyle.
Row Down the Charles River
In the 60s, The Standells sang that they “loved that dirty water” of the Charles River. Nowadays, the river’s been cleaned up and the water has been known to sparkle on sunny days. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the winding waters and rent a kayak to paddle down the length of the river. Paddle Boston offers kayak rentals, guided sunset tours of the Charles, paddling classes, and more. If you’re feeling daring, why not sign up for one of their Wednesday night races?
Kayaking is a fun way to build upper body and core strength. Maneuvering the paddle over and over makes for a strong back, chest, shoulders, and arms. This is not to mention better coordination and flexibility. It’s a low-impact exercise, so that means less stress on your joints. You’ll also be able to take in the iconic features of the Boston and Cambridge skylines, from the dome of MIT to the gold leaf that tops the State House.
Avid kayakers report that it’s also a good way to reduce stress as you watch the blue-green waters undulate around you under a wide blue sky. And if you join a kayaking club, it’s a way to make new friends as you paddle the waters together.
Get Outdoors and Hike in the Blue Hills
The Blue Hills Reservation is in Milton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. It offers trails for experienced and inexperienced hikers alike, so no matter who you are or what fitness level you’re at, you’ll find a trail here that suits you. No matter what trail you set on, you’re sure to find one that offers rewarding sights of the reservation’s marshlands, meadows, and rolling hills. You might find a stunning view of the city in the distance, or enjoy New England’s famous foliage on a wooded path.
Hiking can be as challenging or as easy as you want it to be, depending on the trail you choose and the pace you set. If you can walk, you can hike. Be sure to bring snacks, water, and wear comfortable sneakers or boots with good traction. Put one foot in front of the other and take the time to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature around you.
Hiking offers a slew of physical and mental benefits. It’s a weight-bearing exercise, so it builds strong bones and strong legs. It builds cardiovascular fitness, so it’ll lower your risks of heart disease and high blood pressure. Beyond that, the relative solitude of hiking offers a meditative experience. It gives your mind a break from the stressors of everyday life. Research shows that regular hiking can alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Reconnecting with nature works your body and rests your brain. This is a great reason to get outdoors.
Ride Down the Minuteman Bikeway
If wheels are more your style, it’s time to take yourself on a spin down the Minuteman Bikeway in North Cambridge. This rail trail starts just past Alewife Station on the Red Line. It travels 10 miles on an out-and-back path through Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. It’s paved all the way and popular with runners, walkers, roller skaters, and cyclists alike. Along the way, you’ll pass Spy Pond, Arlington’s Great Meadows, and the Battle Green where the Battle of Lexington and Concord sparked the American Revolution. Keep an eye out and you might reward yourself with sightings of a hawk or songbird in the wooded sections.
What can cycling do for you? For starters, it’ll build stronger legs and lungs and improve your flexibility. Research suggests cycling can alleviate symptoms of knee pain and osteoarthritis, and balancing on two wheels means better coordination as well. When you take your bike out regularly, you’ll enjoy all the mental benefits of cycling as exercise, including higher-quality sleep, reduced stress, and a healthier brain.
These aren’t the only ways to enjoy the great outdoors around Boston. However, they’re a start. All three will lead you on the path towards becoming your best self, physically and mentally. Get outdoors and make the most of what the Boston area has to offer.