Last week I made the decision to go and partake in a walking trail in Bold Park here in WA.
I know I’ve never would have considered it if I wasn’t in need of A) getting fit and enjoying the wildlife and the spectacular views and B) Improving my mental health.
Bold Park, 437 ha, is the largest remaining bushland remnant in the urban area of the Swan Coastal Plain. It includes Reabold Hill, the highest natural point on the Swan Coastal Plain. It is located close to the coast and has a a raised boardwalk that passes through the bushland to a viewing platform at the summit, offering 360-degree views over Perth.
Bold Park was declared an A-class reserve on 10 August 1998 for its high conservation, landscape and recreation values and vested with the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority for management. It is one of the largest remaining bushland remnants in the urban area of the Swan Coastal Plain, covering 437 hectares near the coast. The vision for Bold Park is ‘to be identified as a world-class urban wilderness enjoyed, studied and managed with the community’.
Bold Park has an impressive biodiversity, with over 1000 native and non-native species of flora, fauna and fungi identified. Over 300 different local native plants are found within the park boundaries, including a number of priority and regionally significant species. Despite its proximity to the city, there is an abundance of wildlife including birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. An array of almost 500 species of macro fungi have also been documented.
‘To maintain a small patch of wild countryside with wild animals and plants where city people can see them is an enormously valuable thing to do, a great refreshment of the spirit for people who live in towns …’ Sir David Attenborough (referring to Bold Park, 1989).
And if it was good enough for David Attenborough to comment on publicly then it was good enough for me!
So, I set off with my support worker at 8am from my place reaching (after some minor diversions the entrance to the park at 9am).
I had a backpack full of water and snacks and I had a hat on as well as sunscreen and insect repellent.
The Autistic walking group were waiting for me and after some introductions we set off on the Zamia Trail (highlighted in yellow on the map below).
Here are some photo’s of some of the views that can be seen from the lookout towers
The walk took us 3 hours in total and we took in some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen.
I stepped out of my comfort zone by attending this walk, I usually shy away from going anywhere on the weekends, so this was a first for me, also it was nice to be in the company of other Autistic people and meet and make some potential new friends, also I got to put my social skills to the test by interacting with people whom I’d never met before and I’m very glad that I did it.
By the time I got home I was exhausted but glad that I had partaken in this walk as it cleared my mind and was a great opportunity to get out and engage and socialise with other Autistic people.
Walking wards off heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart.
Shore Up Your Bones
Walking can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis.
Enjoy a Longer Life
Research finds that people who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35% less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45% less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.
Lighten Your Mood
Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were.
A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped.
Walking tones your leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints to your muscles.
Studies found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk
Support Your Joints
The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from joint fluid that circulates as we move. Movement and compression from walking “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area.
Improve Your Breath
When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.
Slow Down Mental Decline
A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17% decline in memory, as opposed to a 25% decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.
Lower Alzheimer’s Risk
A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than those who walked less.
Do More for Longer
Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living for people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management found.
If you’re interested in joining a walking group, you can click on the link here for one in your state (Australia only)