(PAOLI) – The U.S. Forest Service and Indiana University (IU) Health have joined forces to promote the health benefits of nature and are offering a series of “Healthy Hoosier Hikes” throughout the year.
The next hike, in conjunction with the IU Center for Rural Engagement, is planned for Saturday, March 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest, located just south of Paoli in the Hoosier National Forest. The free 2.6-mile hike will have a guide and a medical professional from IU Health to provide health awareness. Space is limited and participants are asked to register at https://bit.ly/2TOTbOd.
The partner organizations have a goal of improving community health by promoting physical activities in natural settings and creating awareness of the physical and mental health benefits of being in nature. Studies show that being in nature reduces stress, improves mood and mental performance, inspires creativity, and may lead to longer lifespans. Physical activities such as hiking, biking or running, improve physical and mental health. Hoosier National Forest provides over 260 miles of trails for public access to nature between Monroe Reservoir and the Ohio River.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.)