As Connecticut residents adjust to the public health emergency created by the spread of COVID-19, supporters of 3,000+ miles recreational trails issued a reminder that they remain open, free and places where residents can get fresh air, exercise and stress relief.
“This is an extraordinary time, with public buildings closing, large events cancelled and valid concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Recreational trails like the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails offer an activity that can still meet requirements for ‘social distancing,’ are free all residents, and are conveniently located statewide,” said Eric Hammerling, Executive Director for CT Forest & Park Association (CFPA).
“There are enormous physical and mental health benefits from outdoor recreation and activity at places like our state park system, and I routinely encourage people to avail themselves of those public spaces for their well-being,” said Dr. Andrew Meisler, a clinical psychologist in Hartford and avid trail runner. “In the current climate, people will need it now more than ever.”
Dr. Dennis Johnston, a Clinical Neuropsychologist and avid hiker from Farmington, said that there is research that shows that outdoor activity is good for mental well-being.
"It is well known that exercise is good for mental and physical health, but a recent study showed that exercising outdoors reduced anxiety more than exercising indoors. So, if people are feeling anxious and caged up indoors, then it is good to know that there are free, accessible options for getting outside and reducing stress."
Dr. Warren Corson III, Clinician and Executive Director of Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm in Wolcott, said it’s more important than ever that people attend to their mental health.
“Our counseling center is built around the belief that being in a natural setting is the key to well-being. There probably isn’t a better time to be encouraging people to recreate outdoors on trails than right now,” said Corson.