Walk Your Way to a Healthy Heart

The leaves are beginning to change color, making it a beautiful time of year to head out for a brisk walk or a hike with your family. Walking is a low-impact form of activity that family members of all ages can enjoy. Walking benefits your health in many ways. It can help to lower “bad” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, improve your strength and fitness, and help manage your weight.

Living in the Boston-area provides many opportunities for walking thanks to the Massachusetts’ Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Healthy Heart Trails, including:

Belle Isle Marsh Reservation (East Boston): Open year-round from 9:00 a.m. to dusk, Belle Isle Marsh Reservation preserves 152 acres of Boston’s last remaining salt marsh.  To get to the Marsh, take the MBTA Blue Line to Suffolk Downs Station, exit onto Bennington Street, turn left, and the entrance is 500 yards on the right.

Charles River Reservation Esplanade: The Esplanade provides a 1.5 loop with scenic views of the Charles River. The path begins at the Lee Pool Parking Lot and is accessible from public transit.  Take the MBTA Red Line train to the Charles Street/MGH station. Take the footbridge over Storrow Drive to the Charles River side and go West along Storrow Drive.

Squantum Point Park (Quincy): At Squantum Point, visitors can see the Boston skyline across the harbor and dozens of species of wild birds. The park’s 2-mile walking loop is open year-round with mile markers every half-mile. Take the MBTA Red Line to the North Quincy Station and hop on the #211 bus route; enter through the Manet Community Center Road to Health Trail.

Stony Brook Reservation (West Roxbury and Hyde Park): Ten to twelve miles of hiking trails and walking paths wind through the quiet, forested portion of the Reservation. The Reservation is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Take the MBTA Orange line to Forest Hills Station.

For more options, check out the complete list of Healthy Heart Trails. Be sure to pack plenty of water and a healthy snack such as mini-peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread, low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit, or Healthy Family Fun’s Super Strawberry Bars to keep your family energized if you’re planning to walk more than a few miles.

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