WV parks Chief’s Challenge offers great motivation

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — As West Virginia residents consider New Year’s resolutions to implement tomorrow, West Virginia State Parks Chief Sam England has an idea: Take a hike. Actually, take lots of them. England has put in place a Chief’s Challenge to hike or walk 100 miles in 2016 on state park or state forest trails or pathways.

“Ten miles of the 100 mile goal should be with a naturalist and the other 90 are solo or with friends and family at any of West Virginia state parks or forests,” the challenge says.

Of course, one does not need to sign on to any formal challenge to enjoy our state’s natural beauty, but registration for the Chief’s Challenge may provide a little extra motivation to get healthy, get to know our state while better understanding its wonders, and get a few reminders of just how lucky we are to live in such a spectacular place.

Our own North Bend State Park is among those featured in the challenge, and there are certainly trails and facilities there, of which local residents should be taking advantage.

Taking a walk in the woods can boost the immune system, reduce stress, improve symptoms of depression, improve memory and learning, lower blood pressure and help with keeping in shape, according to various studies. Making the effort to go as part of a group – or just taking your kids along – can have some pretty positive social outcomes as well.

Signing up for the Chief’s Challenge at wvstateparks.com/Hikes-Walks.html could be a great start to 2016. Take a look at what is out there, ladies and gentlemen. Resolve to find out just why the wild is so wonderful, in West Virginia.

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