Explore Your Local Trails, Enjoy Long-Term Health Benefits

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(NewsUSA) - Stress -- it's everywhere. But there is an easy form of stress reduction that is as simple as opening your front door.

Spending time outside can help improve your physical and mental health, and you don't have to be an extreme athlete to reap the benefits.

Studies show that simply going out for a walk in nature can help build strength and endurance, and contribute to feelings of relaxation and resilience. Being active outside has proven benefits for people's minds and bodies.

Rail-trails in particular are ideal for individuals of all abilities and fitness levels to safely enjoy the outdoors. Rail-trails are multipurpose public paths created from former railroad corridor. That means they are flat or gently sloping, have a hard surface that makes them accessible to all types of activities and are available in rural and urban areas.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting communities across America with trails. One way they do this is through promoting the value of time spent outside -- by encouraging people to make "trail moments" a regular part of their lives and sharing these experiences to inspire others to discover the convenience and joy of being active outside on trails.

"I feel really lucky to have grown up in Virginia, and now I live in Washington state, with lots of access to these trails, but there are literally thousands of miles of rail-trails all over the country," says Miranda Webster, (@mirandagoesoutside) a longtime outdoor-enthusiast.

"So, whether you are mountain biking, hiking, walking your dog, or riding your bike, I hope that you're able to find a trail near you where you can enjoy it as much as I have through my entire life," she says.

Travel blogger Jeff Jenkins (@chubbydiaries_), based in Texas, has taken his wanderlust to local trails in a series of blogs and videos for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

"Now, I'm showing people how to discover their own backyards, from their local cities to national parks, trails and the great outdoors," says Mr. Jenkins, who has also created an online community for plus-sized travelers at chubbydiaries.com.

"So often people see trails as a way to get a little outdoor recreation, and yes, that's true," says Ian Mackay (@ians_ride), who regularly enjoys the trails in rural Washington state from his power wheelchair. "But it is so much more for me... having a safe trail space where I can go explore my own interests, interact with the community, and run my own errands is monumental to my happiness," adds Mr. Mackay, who is also the founder of Ian's Ride, a nonprofit organization.

This fall, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is taking inspiration from the thousands of stories that people have shared about the personal impact of time spent outside on trails and encouraging people of all ages and abilities to make a habit of it. Their #TrailMoments 21-Day Challenge offers fun activities to encourage people to get out on the trail every day.

Visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website for more information and tips on making outdoor time part of your daily routine. www.railstotrails.org/trailmoments and @railstotrails #TrailMoments on social media.

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