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FAIRBANKS: Healthy Walk in the Woods Program Links People, Health and Nature
Alaska Region, September 12, 2008
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In August, 2008 Melissa Sikes (second from left) with Friends of Creamer’s Field leads an aerobic walk at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Photo by Shannon Nelson/USFWS
In August, 2008 Melissa Sikes (second from left) with Friends of Creamer’s Field leads an aerobic walk at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Shannon Nelson/USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Participants in the Healthy Walk in the Woods program in Fairbanks, Alaska wind through a forested section of trail at Creamer’s Field in August, 2008. Photo by Shannon Nelson/USFWS
Participants in the Healthy Walk in the Woods program in Fairbanks, Alaska wind through a forested section of trail at Creamer’s Field in August, 2008. Photo by Shannon Nelson/USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

An innovative new community partnership in Fairbanks, Alaska is getting people out and enjoying nature under an unexpected pretense: improving their health.  The Healthy Walk in the Woods program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Friends of Creamer’s Field, and the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center.  Numerous studies demonstrate the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise, and an increasing amount of research indicates it is also healthy for adults and children to simply spend time in nature.  The Healthy Walk in the Woods program combines these two arenas by encouraging individuals and families in the community to walk at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, where more than five miles of trails and boardwalks wind through meadows, boreal forest, and seasonal wetlands.  Creamer’s Field is also a popular local destination to bird watch, especially each spring and fall when thousands of migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes pass through.

 

Several guided aerobic walks have been offered at Creamer’s Field to help familiarize program participants with the trails.  For those interested in enhancing their walking experience, backpacks can be checked-out at the Creamer’s Field Visitor Center.  Two types of backpacks are available.  One is for aerobic walkers and contains a pedometer, bottle of water, binoculars, bug dope, trail map, and moose safety information.  The other is for families and nature explorers and contains a sketch book, art supplies, bubbles, magnifying glass, and most items that are contained in the aerobic backpack.  Pedometers can also be checked-out separately. 

 

The program is being advertised to the Fairbanks community at large, as well as to specific groups such as clients in the Diabetes Program at Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center and employees at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Participation in the Healthy Walk in the Woods program is increasing as the season progresses and more people hear about it.  The pilot program runs through this fall and, depending on interest, will be offered again and possibly expanded next summer.

 

For more information contact Shannon Nelson, Education Specialist, at (907) 455-1823

 


Contact Info: Shannon Nelson, 907-455-1823, shannon_nelson@fws.gov



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