Best Foot Forward

Check out these four walking paths to discover peace of mind and an uplifted mood

Walking can lift your mood, especially if you walk with wonder, according to new research in the scientific journal Emotion. People who show lower activity levels tend to be less open, agreeable, and conscientious, but just 15 minutes of walking a day can foster positive emotions.

“Walking enhances every aspect of our social, psychological, and neural functioning,” writes Shane O’Mara, author of In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration. “We need to make walking a natural, habitual part of our everyday lives.” 

Taking 6,000 or more steps per day can also prevent knee osteoarthritis, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research. An extra 1,000 steps daily can reduce knee problems by almost 20 percent two years later. Turn the page to discover walking paths around town.

Barefoot Beach Preserve

Whether you opt for the 1-mile loop or a stroll through the butterfly garden, you certainly won’t find a place as peaceful as this 300-acre haven. Bring a blanket for a post-walk meditation on the beach. 505 Barefoot Beach Boulevard, Naples

Photo by Paul G. Osborn

Naples Botanical Garden

Get transported to a remote, tropical destination right here in Naples as you saunter past amazing plants from around the globe. At the garden, Burle Marx’s kaleidoscopic landscape architecture spans 170 acres. Your eyes will feast upon banyan trees and bamboo from Asia as well as Brazil’s palms and bromeliads. 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples

CREW Marsh Trails

Instead of watching the National Geographic channel, walk here and explore Paradise Coast wildlife. The Crew Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on preserving water resources and natural communities, offers guided hikes through marsh trails, where you might see everything from a rose-feathered spoonbill to a benign corn snake. 4600 Corkscrew Road (CR 850), Immokalee

Freedom Park

The 3,500-foot-long boardwalk will take you through native flora canopied by cypress trees that provide much appreciated shade. As you walk, keep an eye out for woodpeckers, herons, and even river otters who occasionally pose long enough for you to snap a picture. The park is also 100 percent wheelchair accessible. 1515 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples

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