Boston Healthy Trail

Healthy Trails: The Path to Better Health

by Brad Davis, Planner, Alta Planning + Design

Trails have all the right elements to get people moving towards better health. They provide a comfortable space to walk or bike, connect with nature or people in the community and get some fresh air. These activities can help improve physical and mental health as well address some of our major diet-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

When I was in Boston last year, I came across this sign along the Charles River Path that said “Healthy Trail.” Underneath the main sign was another one that said “An Official: My Heart. My Life. Walking Path” with the American Heart Association (AHA) logo.

Curious to know what the designation means, I went to the AHA website and found an entire website devoted to finding trails, tracking your walking and other health resources. Don’t have a trail designated near you? They’ve got information on how to start a Healthy Trail too.

With our work, we have found health professionals are taking access to trails and physical activity seriously. Personal health extends beyond diet and includes how you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Trails are a great way to do that.

In addition to considering access to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies as part of the current public health debate, I think you can add access to trails too. The American Heart Association has, and your doctor or health care provider may be next.