May is National Osteoporosis Month. Take steps now to improve bone health for yourself and your family.
Lace up those shoes, and let’s take a walk!
Walking offers excellent health benefits from muscle tone to cardiovascular strength, but for our purposes during National Osteoporosis Month, walking is a great way to protect your bones from osteoporosis, a disease that affects 4.5 million women over the age of 50 nationwide. Weight-bearing exercise like walking, along with a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, strengthens bones and helps to prevent osteoporosis.
From the mountains to the coast, Georgia is blessed with a bounty of interesting and beautiful places to walk. We have mountain hikes, Rails to Trails paths, and historic sites to meet every interest and fitness level. I asked a few commissioners to share with you their favorite walking paths near their hometowns.
In the Rome, Georgia area, Commissioner Sharon Baker recommends the Berry College campus and Ridge Ferry Park. The college sits on 26,000 acres of wooded land that is teeming with wildlife. If you go early in the morning or late in the afternoon, the fields will be covered over in deer. The Berry College campus has designated walking, biking, and horse riding trails, so you will want to check out their online maps to find the right spots. Ridge Ferry Park has tons of amenities including pavilions and playgrounds but also paved and natural walking trails. It would be a great place to meet friends for a walk.
Commissioner Mia Rice enjoys the Chattahoochee RiverWalk in Columbus, Georgia. This beautiful 22-mile paved trail hugs the Chattahoochee River bank and runs from Lake Oliver through Columbus to Fort Benning. It is a favorite of hikers, bikers, strollers, and dog walkers. Rafting parties float by while you take in the river scenery, and it is entertaining to watch them navigate the rapids.
I am partial to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, which is practically in my back yard. It is an oasis in the midst of urban sprawl, and once you leave the parking areas, the trails feel as secluded as the trails in other, more remote national parks around the country. There are sections of relatively flat loop trails on the Cheatham Hill side of the park, but the views of the Atlanta skyline from the top of Kennesaw Mountain are well worth the trek up. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Stone Mountain, another fun hiking destination in Metro Atlanta.
Although I usually bike it instead of walk it, the Silver Comet Trail is a favorite of residents in Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties as well as others on the west side of Atlanta looking for a nice place to walk. A paved path that follows a former railroad line, the Silver Comet runs from Smyrna all the way to Alabama where it joins up with the 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail. The many parking lots along the trail make it easy to team up with a friend and two cars for an easy point-to-point hike.
When it comes to the coast, Savannah is my favorite walking city. Not technically a trail, the city is still a great place to get some exercise, and I love to spend a weekend strolling through the squares and parks and browsing the antique shops. The live oaks draped with Spanish moss create an atmosphere that is very southern, gothic, and romantic. It is no surprise that ghost tours abound. James Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia, was brilliant in his urban planning way back in 1733, and now, almost 300 years later, we can still enjoy his vision of the ideal city. If you go to Savannah, make sure your walk includes Forsyth Park. The fountain alone is spectacular.
As spring turns into summer in the Peach State, head outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery of our lovely state. Your bones will reap the benefit. To find a trail near you, visit TrailLink, Triple Blaze, or Georgia State Parks.
What is your favorite Georgia trail?
Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.