Get moving this fall with the Healthy Driven Take a Hike! Challenge

This fall, Edward-Elmhurst Health is joining a group of local organizations to invite community residents to get outside and stay healthy with the fourth annual Healthy Driven Take a Hike! Challenge.

As participants discovered over the last two years of the Challenge, hiking is a great way for people of all ages to spend time outdoors and stay active.

This year's Take a Hike! Challenge co-sponsors include The Conservation Foundation, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and the Elmhurst and Naperville park districts.

The challenge, which runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 27, provides hiking insights, special programs and tips to improve and get the most out of each hike.

Participation is free but registration is required to earn awards.

"Spending time in our area's beautiful trails and forest preserves provides a solid foundation for mental and physical health and well-being, so integral to a prevention lifestyle," says Joe Dant, president, South Region, NorthShore-Edward-Elmhurst Health. "Time spent in nature has been shown to produce health benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and improved relationships with family and friends. Physical activity can lower cardiovascular and cancer risk, while improving balance and bone density. We are grateful to our sponsor-partners for helping us bring this impactful program to our communities."

Participation is easy with three simple steps: 1.) Sign up online. 2.) Get out and hike from Sept. 1 to Oct. 27. 3). Turn in the Take a Hike! tracker with six completed hikes to earn the Take a Hike! Trail Blaze Award.

The hikes can be completed anywhere. Trails listed online are suggestions only.

The Take a Hike! Trail Blaze Award includes either a commemorative pin, medallion or, for first time participants, a walking stick with a commemorative medallion. Start a collection as there will be a new design each year.

Special programs will be offered during the challenge.

• The Elmhurst Walking Group kickoff will be at noon Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Eldridge Park, 363 Commonwealth Lane in Elmhurst. No registration is needed.

• Sign up for "ID That Tree!" with the Conservation Foundation. It will be 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at Fullersburg Woods, 3609 Spring Road in Oak Brook. Meet a plant expert for a leisurely walk to enjoy the blooms of late summer. Learn about native flowers, how to identify them and which varieties you can grow at home. Trees are a consistent feature in the backdrop of our lives, adding color, dimension, and vibrancy. Join this 1.5-mile hike to explore Fullersburg Woods. Learn more and register at Space is limited to 30 participants.

• Register for a "Forest Therapy Walk" at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton. It will be 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17. Immerse yourself in nature and experience the healing effects of forest therapy or Shinrin-Yoku (Japanese for forest bathing). The walk is not about the destination, but instead the awakening of your senses to the natural environment around you. Reconnect with nature during these mindful walks with certified Forest Therapy guide Jeanne Lovinelli. The walk is held entirely outdoors. Be prepared to walk over uneven terrain. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. Participants must be 12 years and older. Minors must be accompanied by a legal guardian. This program is made possible through the support of the DuPage Foundation. Sign up at

To register, sign up for weekly emails about special events, see an interactive hiking map and more, visit the Take a Hike! Challenge website at

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