Trails, trees and stimulating talk, all in one — the Walk and Talk Book Club makes the most of the summer months.
“We describe it as exercising both your mind and your body,” said Jamie Welton, Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District program coordinator. “It’s nice to have intellectual conversation and exercise at te same time.”
The program is a partnership between the Greene County Public Library and the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District. An adult services librarian from the Winters-Bellbrook Community Library leads the book discussion while a park staff member helps navigate the trails at Sweet Arrow Reserve in Bellbrook.
“Being outdoors adds another dimension to the discussion,” said Ruth Monnier, adult services librarian.
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WALK AND TALK
The books for the Walk and Talk series are nature-based. June participants discussed Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.”
The walks are stimulating, but not overly taxing. Most are just over a mile as guides take participants on either the prairie or wooded trail based on the preference or limitations of the group.
“We keep it a slower pace if need be so anyone can do it,” Monnier said.
In addition to discussing the book, hikers get to experience the newest addition to the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District. Sweet Arrow Reserve has seven different trail loops ranging from half a mile to 1.5 miles.
“It’s a nice way to get people into our parks,” Welton said.
The lush green surroundings and intellectual stimulation aren’t the only perks. “It’s more than a walk, it’s walking with friends and that makes it really nice,” Monnier said.
Various studies have shown that people who live in urban environments — especially those with little access to green space — have a higher risk for anxiety and depression. Interaction with nature can affect emotional health, lowering levels of stress hormones and improving your overall sense of well-being.
Spending time in nature has also been linked to increased creativity, improved concentration and memory and reduced levels of fatigue. For children with ADHD, spending time outdoors has also been shown to reduce symptoms.
Beyond the brain benefits, more green time than screen time has cardiovascular benefits and can help people lose or maintain their weight. Some preliminary studies have suggested that spending time in nature – forests in particular – may stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins and boost the immune system.
ABOUT THE GROUP
What: Walk and Talk Book Club, a book club designed for those who love to read as well as enjoy fresh air on a light hike.
When: Meets at Sweet Arrow Reserve, 789 Little Sugarcreek Road, the third Saturday of the month through September from 9-10 a.m.
Books: July – “Wesley the Owl,” Stacey O’Brien; August: “Flight Behavior,” Barbara Kingsolver; September – “The Nature of the Beast,” Louise Penny.
One additional session will be held on Monday, Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. discussing Homer Hickam Jr.’s “Rocket Boys,” the book that inspired the movie “October Sky.”