Nature Walk


The Rhode Island winter can be long, cold and dark; spring, however, brings longer and warmer days. This change offers the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise. The Rhode Island landscape offers a multitude of trails and dirt roads to enjoy and its many State's Management Areas. A full list can be found on the Rhode Island DME website. Walking and hiking are easy and effective exercises with many health benefits. Human beings have benefited from these activities for the last 4 million years.

Walking can be beneficial by strengthening muscles and joints and increasing blood flow thereby improving range of motion and overall mobility. Improving bone density and the prevention of bone loss are benefits from as little as 30 minutes of walking per day 3 times a week. Faster walking has been proven to be better than longer walking. Weight loss improved immune system, better sleep, lower blood pressure, and improved heart health are some other benefits.

Walking the trails and roads at our State's Management Areas can make getting exercise more enjoyable and safer than walking on roads or highways. However, there are a few safety precautions people need to be aware of. This of course is besides the obvious one’s mothers teach when we are young such as "do not drink water out of a puddle and do not eat leaves and berries off the ground."

The black legged tick (deer tick) is common in our state. The tick attaches to and can transmit diseases to humans. Lyme disease is the most notable. Although only a few people have died from Lyme, it can lead to chronic illness. Most commonly it presents as a rash followed by flu-like symptoms. The black legged tick is distinguished by its small size (like a sesame seed) compared to the larger non-disease spreading wood tick. Remember the saying "notations small tick bad, big tick still bad but not because of Lyme".  Precautions one can take are wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt, using bug repellent for ticks, and checking for ticks after being in the woods, because early removal can prevent diseases transmissions. There is a medication available for dogs and cats to prevent the tick from spreading disease. Human trials are currently underway.

Mosquitoes can also transmit serious illnesses. Almost every summer mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis are detected in our area. Although many victims of this virus do not get sick, some can experience severe symptoms including coma and death. The precautions are basically the same as with ticks. The DEM will usually post signs and areas where the virus has been detected. If you are concerned about symptoms, you experience shortly after a mosquito bite, I recommend talking to a medical provider.

When enjoying the outdoors one must be aware of the hunting season. Turkey hunting in spring and deer and duck season in the fall and winter. Each season has specific requirements when it comes to wearing blaze orange. Orange hat and vest for most of the seasons are both required.   These are listed on the DME website and in the management areas. Although hunting accidents are rare it is usually when rules are not followed that they happen. As was the case in 2018 when in Montana a hunter thought he saw Bigfoot in the woods and fired several shots at him. It turns out it was a man walking in a field not wearing orange who was fortunately uninjured. Unfortunately, Bigfoot evidence still remains elusive.

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