Healthy Hearts at State Parks


Keep your heart healthy at Florida State Parks

Florida State Parks offer outdoor settings for recreation and exercise, from crystal-clear springs to shady trails.  

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, but there are many outdoor activities that can lower the risk factors. Hiking, biking, paddling, and walking and running are all great ways to keep in shape. Studies have shown that natural outdoor environments can improve mood and self-esteem, increase blood circulation to the brain and be more enticing for extended physical activity. 

Hiker at Lake Louisa

The restorative and calming effects of being outdoors also help lower high blood pressure, lower stress and contribute to an increased sense of well-being. If relaxation is your goal, there are several ways to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat, such as watching birds, lounging in a hammock and taking nature photographs.  

As with any other muscle in the body, the heart becomes stronger when it is used and exercised. Higher intensity activities, such as biking or jogging, make your heart muscle pump harder and faster.  

Running for 30 minutes a few times a week helps increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as good cholesterol. One study published by the American College of Cardiology showed that regular runners had a 45% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke when compared to non-runners. 

Paddling a kayak, canoe or paddleboard is a great recreation option for those needing low impact exercise that still provides a moderate-intensity aerobic workout. To maximize cardiovascular benefits, maintain a steady pace when paddling or alternate between slow and fast intervals, aiming to keep your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes and your arms moving rhythmically. 

Are you ready to get outside and start improving your heart health? There’s truly something for everyone at Florida State Parks!