Did you know that a short 15-minute walk in a natural green space can reduce stress by lowering your cortisol, blood pressure and heart rate? But sometimes it’s not so easy to escape to the country for a good long hike. For those of us living in the city – or making a trip to the city – here are five great urban parks to self-medicate with some nature!
Hampstead Heath – London, England
London is a beautiful city with plenty of attractions and distractions to keep you busy on a trip across the pond, but sometimes, even on vacation, you need to get away from it all. Take a jaunt up to Hampstead Heath, an easy Tube ride from Central London. This 790-acre park sits on a ridge above the city and features winding single-track trails, wide grassy fields, little ponds, lush wooded hillsides, and one of the best views of the London skyline you’ll find anywhere. On a sunny day, Hampstead Heath will be busy with joggers, walkers, and romping dogs, but you can easily find some solitude on one of the many pathways that crisscross the park.
Zilker Park – Austin, TX
If the crazy Austin traffic has been getting you down, make a pit-stop in Zilker Park. Zilker Park has something for just about everyone – walkers, runners, swimmers, even kayakers and SUPers! This 351-acre park that sits on the opposite side of Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) gives city-goers access to numerous trails, gardens, and the ice-cold Barton Springs Pool, where on a hot summer day you can cool off!
Cherry Creek State Park – Denver, CO
The mountains are farther than they appear in Denver, CO, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities to get outside in the Mile High City itself. Take a trip to the Cherry Creek State Park and you’ll be transported miles away from the noisy city streets. With 35-miles of multi-use trails for hikers, bikers, and walkers, you’re sure to find some much needed stress relief!
Central Park – New York, New York
No list of urban parks would be complete without Central Park! Sure, 40-million people visit Central Park every year (yikes!), but this urban green space attracts urban walkers for good reason. You could spend an entire day walking through this 843-acre park, exploring the numerous lakes and ponds and keeping an eye out for Red-Tailed Hawks. While you’re enjoying strolling through this beautiful green space, be sure to enjoy the art and architecture which includes Cleopatra’s Needle (from 1450 BC!) as well as Belvedere Castle and Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.
Stanley Park – Vancouver, CA
Vancouver is one of the greenest cities in the world, and has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any city in North America. It’s also one of the most scenic cities in the world, situated on British Columbia’s Burrard Peninsula. Stanley Park is like a little forest within downtown Vancouver itself and features numerous walking trails, beaches, and fresh water lakes. You might just forget you’re in the city as you amble beneath the dense forest canopy and watch for Great Blue Herons, one of the largest urban colonies in North America.
Do you have a favorite urban hike? Tell us about it! Leave a comment below. And don't forget to take your eNZees to prevent blisters on your next walk or hike!
When it’s a beautiful day in Paris, it’s nothing less than an obligation to see the city on foot. Even in January! Most of the main “attractions” are within easy walking distance from one another if you have a comfortable pair of shoes and plenty of eNZees Foot Soother to prevent blisters on the go. I recently embarked on a whirlwind, 2-day tour of the city, fitting in all the highlights: the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysses, Arc de Triomphe, Musee D’Orsay, and the Louvre (well, the exterior at least – more on that later!), and plenty of baguettes and wine!
The Charles De Gaulle Etoile Metro stop deposits sightseers almost directly underneath the Arc de Triomphe. And, yes, it’s as big as it looks in the pictures! Inaugurated in 1836, the Arc de Triomphe commemorates the fallen soldiers in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. You can stroll directly underneath it to view the inscriptions of victories and generals as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Just as impressive is a walk around the Place Charles De Gaulle, a chaotic roundabout with twelve separate avenues shooting countless cars, trucks, motorcycles, and cyclists (yikes!) into a traffic frenzy.
From there, it’s a pleasant walk down the famous Champs-Élysées, a long straight boulevard with sidewalks the width of an entire roadway on either side. This major shopping district has everything (and more) that you could ever want. If you get a little carried away and end up with too many shopping bags, you can always buy a new car from one of the five dealerships on the Champs-Élysées to help you carry them home!
We followed the Champs-Élysées down to the Place de la Concorde, where Marie-Antoinette was famously beheaded in 1793. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the obelisk that towers above the Place is actually 3,300 years old and once stood outside the Luxor Temple in honor of Ramsses II! It was gifted to the France by the Egyptian government in 1800s. Suppose I’ll have to go back to further appreciate its history!
It was a cold day, but the sun warmed us as we ambled down the Left Bank of the Seine on our way to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been to Paris several times before, but I’m always struck by the beautiful of the Eiffel Tower. You really know you’re in Paris once you’ve walked around it.
By now, we’d walked a little over three miles and were well ready for a little French cuisine. We ducked into a small cafe and indulged in a chocolate crepe and two glasses of wine. There really is no shortage of wonderful food in Paris! It’s hard to go wrong. From the Eiffel Tower, we walked past Les Invalides toward the Louvre where a line of tourists stretched around the pyramid and across the courtyard. It’s not hard to believe this is the most popular museum in the world! I took a snapshot of the pyramid before deciding to visit the Musée d’Orsay a short walk away.
Though not as extensive as the Louvre, the Orsay houses many of the greats – Picasso, Van Gogh, Delacroix, Monet, Manet, Degas, you name it! Although plan adding a few more miles and laps up the stairs, if you go. Every baguette, croissant, and chocolate eclair is well deserved on a walking tour of Paris!
You’re on step number 95 when that painful rubbing on your heel becomes just too much. You sit down on the Spanish Steps in Rome and realize that all the walking from today – the Coliseum, the Pantheon, all of it - has given you a massive blister. What’s a globetrotter to do?
Anytime I go on the road, I always pack plenty of eNZees Foot Soother in case of blisters. Sometimes even the most trusted and well-worn shoes can cause hot-spots and blisters because of different walking terrain or even temperature and humidity levels. Next time you go on vacation, try these simple steps for blister prevention.
Make sure your shoes fit
With checked baggage limits and carry-on restrictions, you have be selective with the shoes you decide to take. Quite often you’re limited to only a single pair! So make sure that your travel footwear fits and is comfortable for walking long periods of time. It sounds obvious, but one of the most common causes of blisters is footwear that doesn’t fit!
Invest in some good socks
When you’re bopping from country to country, hotel to hotel, you can’t carry a full drawer of socks. So invest in a couple of pairs of good, well-fitting wool socks. Wool and synthetic materials wick the moisture away from your skin, reducing the friction that causes blisters. Good socks won’t stretch out and loose their shape over long periods of time, so you can get more than one wear from a pair.
Try orthotic inserts
The Foot & Ankle Center of Washington recommends using orthotics shoe inserts to reduce motion within the shoe. When your foot is constantly rubbing side to side, up and down inside the shoe it can create friction in unwanted places. I’ve used Superfeet for years, and have found them to make my hiking boots all the more comfortable.
Don’t forget your eNZees!
eNZees Foot Soother is all-natural New Zealand lambswool. When you apply it to friction-prone areas, the wool absorbs the moisture from your skin and reduces rubbing. It can also moisturize dry skin with the natural lanolin found in the wool. Give it a try even if you don’t have a blister!
Whether you’re taking the dog for a stroll around the park or walking to work, there’s nothing that can ruin your daily constitutional like an ill-timed blister. But blisters don’t have to be a fact of life! Follow these simple steps for preventing blisters and enjoy your walk!
- Find shoes that fit!
This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many blisters could be prevented simply by wearing shoes that fit. If your shoes are too short, you can easily develop hot-spots on your toes where they are rubbing the front of your shoe. Or, if your shoes are too big or too wide, blisters can form on your heels or under your toes because your feet are moving around too much inside the shoe. When you buy your next pair of shoes, do so from an experienced footwear specialist who can help you find the perfect fit for your foot.
- Invest in good socks
Socks are easy to skimp on or are quite often just an after thought. But when it comes to blister prevention, good socks are one of the key ingredients. Avoid cotton and invest in a few nice pairs of wool or synthetic socks. Wool and synthetic materials wick the moisture away from your skin, reducing that blister-causing friction. We particularly like FITS and Smartwool.
- Moisturize that dry skin
Believe it or not, dry skin is more prone to blisters. Pamper your feet with a pedicure and don’t forget to apply lotion. You can also use eNZees Foot Soother on a daily basis to soothe dry skin. The lanolin found naturally in our wool moisturizes dry skin and can help with corns and calluses.
- Use eNZees Foot Soother!
Carry a MINI in your purse or day-bag in case of emergency. When you begin to develop a hot-spot, simply wrap the wool around your toes or apply to the back of your heel to reduce the friction between your shoe, sock, and skin. The wool will weave into the fibers of your sock, holding it in place. No need for tape or scissors! Simply pull it out like Velcro when you’re done.