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5 Shady Hikes of Summer - South Bay

Summer is here but that doesn’t mean you have to stop getting your hike on! On the contrary my friends! Nature has many mental and physical benefits and its imperative to your longevity to care for yourself, even in Summer.


We just don’t talk the talk we walk the walk! We are out there getting ours as much as possible doing our absolute best to stay healthy among one of the busiest cities in the United States, San Jose. It can be stressful, and you might not notice but even driving to and from work can increase your heart rate, make your nervous and aggressive and raise your blood pressure. Hence, the “I need to wind down” statement when you finally make it home. We speak from experience.


If possible, after work try driving to a park for a hike. Just the breakup of monotony will do you good. I have yet to go on a hike with a headache and return with it afterwards. Here is some science behind my claims. I also have two environmental degrees and have written papers on naturopathy.


1. IT CAN LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE

Spending time outside is good for the heart, research shows, and since high blood pressure costs the U.S. approximately $48.6 billion per year and affects 1 in 3 Americans, visiting green spaces may be a simple and affordable way to improve heart health.


A large June 2016 study found that nearly 10% of people with high blood pressure could get their hypertension under control if they spent just 30 minutes or more in a park each week.


2. IT PROMOTES CANCER-FIGHTING CELLS

An April 2016 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that women living in areas with a lot of vegetation had a 12% lower risk of death from all causes compared with people in the least green places. That could be thanks to cleaner air, but nature may also offer its own medicine. Research shows that when people walk through a forest, they inhale phytoncides that increase their number of natural killer (NK) cells–a type of white blood cell that supports the immune system and is associated with a lower risk of cancer. NK cells are also thought to have a role in combating infections and autoimmune disorders and tamping down inflammation, which contributes to a wide range of ailments, including heart disease and diabetes.


In a 2010 study, researchers found that people who took two long walks through forests on consecutive days increased their NK cells by 50% and the activity of these cells by 56%. Those activity levels remained 23% higher than usual for the month following the walks.


3. IT CAN HELP WITH DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

Not surprisingly, urban dwellers are far more likely to have anxiety and mood disorders than people who live in rural areas. That is the bad news, since about 80% of Americans live in cities.


A 2015 study found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural setting, such as a forest or a nature park, were less likely to ruminate–a hallmark of depression and anxiety–and had lower activity in an area of the brain linked to depression than people who walked in an urban area. “Accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” the study authors write.

#1 Coyote Creek Parkway Trail

PARKING: FREE, Silver Creek Valley Rd. and Piercy Rd., South San Jose

TRAIL: Coyote Creek Trail (walk north or south under the shade of oaks, cottonwoods and box elder)

LEVEL: Easy

ADA ACCESSIBLE: Yes

BATHROOMS: Yes


#2 Alum Rock Park

PARKING: $6.00, last parking lot but some of the first parking lots are free.

TRAIL: Penitencia Creek Trail (walk up creek under the shade of maple, oaks, and western sycamore)

LEVEL: Easy

ADA ACCESSIBLE: Yes

BATHROOMS: Yes


#3 Sanborn County Park

PARKING: FREE, pull out parking on left side of Sanborn Rd. about quarter mile from HWY 9

TRAIL: Ohlone Trail (walk up creek under the shade of redwoods, oaks, and bay laurel)

LEVEL: Moderate

ADA ACCESSIBLE: No

BATHROOMS: No (there are bathrooms located inside of park entrance, $6 parking fee)


#4 Uvas County Park

PARKING: $6.00 (reservation required), 2nd level parking lot

TRAIL: Waterfall Loop Trail (walk under the shade of redwoods, oaks, and big leaf maple)

LEVEL: Moderate

ADA ACCESSIBLE: No

BATHROOMS: Yes


#5 Mt. Madonna County Park

PARKING: $6.00, 7850 Pole Line Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076

TRAIL: Bayview-Tan Oak-Redwood Lollipop Loop (walk under the shade of redwoods and oaks, see trillium, western star flower and so much more)

LEVEL: Moderate

ADA ACCESSIBLE: No

BATHROOMS: Yes


Take a shaded hike with Saved By Nature!

Giants of the Fog Belt--Redwoods, Mountain Lions, and Historic Ruins

Saturday, July 24th, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Mt. Madonna County Park


Join Saved by Nature Community Nature Guide Sean Reedy for a shady 6.3-mile hike with 800 feet of elevation gain on the Bayview-Tan Oak-Redwood Lollipop Loop. You’ll learn about redwood forests, hear a tale of a mountain lion encounter, and explore the ruins of cattle baron Henry Miller’s vacation home. Participants should bring snacks and water.


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