Published March 20, 2024

Hike your way to heart health with the MetroParks Trails Challenge

Now that the weather is warming and there are more hours of daylight, it’s a great time to start a new wellness journey. Engaging in healthy activities outdoors provides a boost of benefits that indoor workout sessions do not, such as decreased stress and increased vitamin D and heart health.

Indeed, heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women across most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, the CDC also reports that Black citizens are at greater risk of death from heart disease compared to other races and ethnic groups.

Creating healthy habits, such as adopting a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity, can decrease the risk for heart disease. The MetroParks Trails Challenge is the perfect way to get acclimated to outdoor activity while having fun and increasing your fitness level.

“The MetroParks Trails Challenge is an opportunity for people to discover new places in MetroParks while trying new outdoor recreation activities,” said Jordan Hart, MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator. “Because each participant gets to decide in which order they complete trails, it provides folks with the opportunity to start with shorter trails while building stamina to tackle longer trails.”

Participants have until Oct. 31 to hike, cycle, mountain bike, paddle and horseback ride as many of the 28 trails as they can for a chance to win prizes. Participation is free and can be completed online at www.metroparks.org/trailschallenge.

Everyone starting a new exercise regimen should consult their primary care physician. Many may find starting the MetroParks Trails Challenge by completing the Heart Healthy Trails is a great starting point.

Heart Healthy Trails are easy, entry-level trails on paved or flat surfaces without a lot of elevation change. The American Heart Association recommends walking at a brisk pace of 24 minutes per mile and work toward walking at least 2.5 miles per hour. Heart Healthy Trails are marked every quarter mile, allowing hikers to keep track of their pace.

Heart Healthy Trails that are part of the MetroParks Trails Challenge in 2024 are:

Learn more about Heart Healthy Trails at www.metroparks.org/heart.

How to participate in the 2024 MetroParks Trails Challenge

  • Visit metroparks.org/trailschallenge to register, access the 2024 MetroParks Trails Log and learn more about the trails challenge.
  • Hike, bike, ride, paddle or horseback ride the designated trails — in any order and at your own convenience. Use the MetroParks mobile app to learn more about individual challenges. Those who have not yet downloaded the app can do so for free by visiting metroparks.org/mobile.
  • Track your progress on the mobile app. Everyone can participate — including children.
  • Submit your trails log no later than Oct. 31 at metroparks.org/trailschallenge to be eligible to receive prizes.
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How to win prizes:

  • Complete just one trail in the challenge, and you will be entered to win a $100 gift card to a local outdoor gear or bike shop of your choosing. You will receive one entry for each trail you complete. Complete all 28 trails and get 28 chances to win.
  • Youth ages 14 and younger who complete just one trail will be entered to win a Kids Adventure Pack, which includes cool outdoor gear. Youth also will receive one entry for each trail they complete. Note: Youth must complete entries through online form to be eligible.
  • Everyone who completes at least 18 trails will receive a MetroParks Trails Challenge sticker. Also, 100 people completing at least 18 trails will be selected at random to receive a MetroParks Trails Challenge T-Shirt.
  • Winners be notified by e-mail or phone. Prizes will be distributed after Oct. 31.

How to plan ahead:

  • Some of the trails in the challenge are segments of larger trails, so participants may have to hike, bike or shuttle back to their starting point. Other trails included are loops, starting and ending at the same point. These are marked on the trail log.
  • Some of the trails require special gear, such as a mountain bike or kayak, but participants can walk, hike, run or jog 22 of the 28 trails. Check metroparks.org/programs-events-finder throughout the year to register for programs, such as Try Mountain Biking, that allow you to borrow gear to complete trails.
  • Participants must use necessary safety equipment, including a helmet and life jacket, during their adventures.
  • Check the status of trails at MetroParks’ alerts page (metroparks.org/alerts), the Miami Conservancy District’s Trail Conditions page and the Miami Valley Trails’ alerts page.

The MetroParks Trails Challenge is presented by Huffy, with additional sponsorship from Wright State University, Dayton Children’s and Miller Valentine.

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