The East Bay Regional Park District applauds the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent call to action for Americans to walk more.
Walking is a “simple, effective and affordable way to build physical activity into our lives,” said Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy as part of her Step It Up! campaign. “We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. … The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”
The East Bay Regional Park District has long been a champion of walking as a way to reduce stress, improve physical health and appreciate nature. The District offers 1,250 miles of trails, many of them wheelchair accessible, throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The District also maintains paved, regional trails that link major parks, cities, BART stations, schools and other East Bay landmarks, allowing thousands of residents to forego their cars and walk or bike to their destinations. Among the most popular are the San Francisco Bay Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail, Iron Horse Trail and Delta/De Anza Trail. The East Bay Greenway, a 12-mile path from Oakland to Hayward, is currently under construction.
In addition, the Park District has been a strong supporter of the international Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative to encourage park use as a way to improve health. The Park District sponsors regular guided walks for residents who might not be regular park users, and provides bus service to parks for low-income children, seniors, families and disabled people. Through the Shine and Parks Prescription programs, the District works closely with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and other health-care organizations to bring low-income patients with diabetes and other chronic ailments to the outdoors.
Trails Challenge is another popular Park District offering, an annual list of 20 recommended hikes of varying difficulties throughout the District. Participants get a T-shirt, trail guide and commemorative pin.
“We’re proud to offer so many opportunities for people to get exercise, relax and enjoy nature,” said Park District General Manager Robert Doyle. “Walking outdoors has been proven to improve physical and mental health, and we’re delighted the Surgeon General is promoting this.”
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 119,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.