Within 30 minutes of arriving at my Redding Marriott hotel, I was already planning my next visit to the area. Maps of biking and hiking trails lay before me. I could already see that my husband and I would not have time to ride and walk all the nifty, scenic paths Redding has to offer. Therefore I made a mental promise to return to hit the bike path from Shasta Dam to the Sundial Bridge. In that moment, though, the hubster and I were changing into our bike shorts to wheel along the river trail, as it lay mostly in shade on this HOT summer day.
Who enjoys road trips, but hates sitting in the car for hours on end? Who likes to head places where you can be active, get outdoors, yet not overdo the exercise thaaang? Do you also love nature, scenery, and hardly any traffic, followed by healthy restaurant food and a comfy hotel room at the end of a day? If so, then head to Redding which has a TON of recreational activities to offer, especially for the over 50 funseeker, all within easy striking distance.
When I was offered the chance to Visit Redding on my way to catch the total eclipse in Oregon, I jumped. Well, I don’t actually jump after knee replacement. But I happy danced a bit. (Thanks VisitRedding for sponsoring our short vacay within a longer vacay). My sister and I had visited Redding a year ago (check out what we discovered in the posts below). We noted that it was perfect for active baby boomers who want to get out and about, burn some calories, and generally move a bit when taking in sights — all on a really reasonable budget. Visiting again for 3 days with the hubster, who just retired, sounded perfect. (Keep scrolling down to find out about the freebies).
The area has so much to offer that is accessible, fun, and beautiful. Yeah, it’s hot as all get-out in the summer, but you can still find a lot to do if you plan your activities by where the shade is. For us, that meant unloading our bicycles and pedaling almost 10 easy miles along the mostly flat Sacramento river trail starting at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. You’ll find water fountains, bathrooms, yet few people along the way whether hiking or biking, so definitely add this to your plans. Parking is free, so no excuses.Who likes to travel where you can be active, get outdoors, yet not overdo the exercise thaaang? Click To Tweet
And what could be cooler than to visit Shasta Caverns or the Subway Cave, less than an hour away? Climbing the few steps down into the Subway Cave opening led us to a refreshing, DARK lava tube where the temperature drooped by about 15 degrees. Hey, just taking in my first lava tube sounded enticing. Combined with the chance to walk — flashlights or a flashlight app on your cell phone required — this adventure was worth the short drive. Hot tip, or rather cool tip — when you get to the end of the Subway Cave, instead of climbing up and walking back to the parking lot in the heat, simply turn around and retrace your steps inside the lave tube. Turn off your light at some point and savor the pitch black.
Notice that so far the activities have been FREE (except the tour of Shasta Caverns, which is worth the fee plus you get to rack up more movement climbing the cave stairs). My kind of active adventure. Additional free attractions beckoned. To be more accurate, once you pay the respective park entrance fees, everything you do inside the parks is free. Oh, and another hot tip — hang onto the car sticker showing you paid your entrance fee as it’s good at other parks in the area for up to 7 days.
Consider Burney Falls State Park if you want more shaded, achievable, moderate hiking in your day. Continue past the majority of visitors who walk down to the falls, cool off in the spray, snap a selfie, then head back to their cars. No sireee — for those who want a little more from their trips, follow the trail along the river as it meanders past a few small bridges, then up into more trees. Don’t you still want to get in your daily 10,000 steps without overdoing it? Totally pleasant, well-marked trail and another moderate intensity activity to add to your lifetime memories.
From waterfalls to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, take in more water adventure. Did you know you can book free ranger guided kayaking tours on Whiskeytown Lake? Sure, you need to call ahead to reserve a kayak. Like a day ahead, so you can be sort of spontaneous. The rangers want people to visit, take advantage of the lake, and connect with nature. Ergo – free kayaking. This kayak program is the deal of the day so be sure to check it out. The lake is less than 20 minutes from Redding. No traffic, easy drive. The hubs and I opted for the sunset paddle, which turned out to be a smart choice. We avoided midday heat and had most of the lake to ourselves — just the ranger, 5 other kayakers, and 3 people fishing in the bays we paddled into.
We packed in so much in our 3 days and still did not come close to taking in everything. I have now traveled to Redding and the area around it – Shasta, Lassen, Whiskeytown — in spring and summer. Next on my active vacation adventure list is to go back in fall. My goal is to bike ride along every path marked “easy” and “moderate.” Nothing “hard” about what we baby boomers can do in Redding!
DISCLOSURE: VisitRedding sponsored our 3 days in the area, including VIP tickets to Opening Night of the Redding Craft Beer week (Keeping the hubs happy) and a personal Lucero Olive Oil tasting tour which appealed to both our sets of taste buds. Calories burned were on me. Hotel, meals, and entrance fees were on them.
ACTION: Go to Redding. I’ll go with you. Oh, and subscribe if you are so inclined and have not yet claimed your free bonus for joining our active aging community.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Can you really sleep your way to a better memory? Sound too good to be true? Believe, believe!
Wait a second though. Isn’t our blog focused on active aging? How active can sleep be? (Not referring to sleep walking if you wondered.) Since we define “active aging” as making good choices about wellness, exercise, movement, and health habits, then sleep habits definitely come into play.
If you’ve been reading our posts for a bit, you know my sister and I have a particular interest in the connection between the brain and body.Newly researched pink noise is a real memory booster #Babyboomers #Activeaging Click To Tweet
Guess what? Do you use background sounds to help you sleep? While “white noise” such as a static, steady background hum nicely lulls us to sleep, newly researched “pink” noise is a real memory booster. Pink noise offers rhythmic variation with a mix of high and low frequencies. Examples might include falling rain, waves lapping at a shore, or an oscillating fan. White noise is steady and eventually gets ignored by the brain; pink noise has an intermittent quality that keeps your neurons firing, positively affecting memory storage during deep sleep stages.
Getting enough quality sleep becomes more problematic with age. As we get older, we sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show we still need as much sleep as when we were younger. The exciting aspect about pink noise is that the study (from Northwestern University) focused on older adults, who performed better on memory tests after just one night listening while snoozing.
Already well established is that:
A 2010 Harvard study discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on various test problems.
If you really want a better memory, easier learning and enriched creativity, add pink noise to your nightly 7-9 sleep hours.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
This post will walk you through ways to analyze your gait to help you:
Walk across the room, turning at the wall and repeating the walk for several rounds. How quickly do you go? How comfortable are you, especially at the knees, lower back and neck? How small or big is your stride? Notice whether or not you have to touch the wall to turn, make a wide circle, or pivot quickly. Pay attention to your balance. Be aware of your stride length, especially if it’s small, which means you don’t trust your balance, though you are actually at MORE risk of falling with a shortened stride.
Go watch SpongeBob Squarepants and take a look at how he propels himself forward. See those flapping arms? Nothing going on from shoulder to elbow, but lots of movement from elbow to hands. If this is you, we bet your elbows hurt after a long walk. Same thing if you’re a wrist flapper. Ideally, you want a long arm that reaches out in front of you. And… you want the arm in back to be reaching behind just as far. At the top of your arm swing, you should have a triangle formed from both hands and the shoulder. In other words, what goes on behind you is as important as what’s happening in front.
What do you see when you focus? What do you hear? What is powering your forward movement? It’s possible you favor one side, especially if you’ve had any kind of leg injury. If you can get someone to listen as you walk (without looking at you), a limp or compensation just might reveal itself. So often we are asked why the left leg (for example) hurts when it was the right leg that had the injury. The answer is that the left leg is overtired from being overused due to overcompensation. So get over it!
Use power muscles to power your stride. Are you using your front or back leg to propel? If you want a shapely booty, push from the glutes. As we mention in our post “Why is My Body in Pain After Running and Walking,” running and walking require different muscle emphasis. Pulling from the hamstrings on the front leg will just make them hurt, and might also cause pain behind the knee. Besides, who doesn’t want a shapelier tush?Imbalances in your stance or stride may be aging you #Babyboomers #Walk #Gait Click To Tweet
Slow your walk way down and observe what happens throughout your body. Does your head bob forward or side to side? Maybe your walk improves. Maybe it falls to pieces. Notice if your arms keep moving or freeze in place. Especially note whether you start to move homolaterally (same arm and leg go forward rather than opposing arm and leg). Do you feel less or more stable?
If your head is forward and down, that’s where you are headed (hahaha. so punny). Your head needs to be above your body, not in front of it. Not only does “text neck” increase your risk of migraines and back strain, it also increases your risk of falling. Ever notice those people who are hunched over with their faces actually looking at the ground? See how their elbows are back behind them for balance? They didn’t get that way overnight. To check if that hunchback will be you, do the chin check. Stand in neutral position (read “Finding Neutral Spine” for a full explanation). Put a finger to your chin. Hold your finger in place. Retract head 2-3 times. Mark any gap. A big gap means you are a forward head thruster. A small gap means you win free neutral spine for life!Use power muscles to power your stride. Do you propel from your front or back leg? #gait… Click To Tweet
Remember how we mentioned 5 tips ago that what goes on behind you is as important as what’s in front? Almost everyone knows the posture zip trick for the front, but do you finish that zzzzzzip by going down the back? Once again, you’re in luck, as we wrote a post (with video !!!) about the zip trick as part of our posture series.
Time to zip up this post. We hope you feel giddy about your gait as you get around the block today and every day.
You now know HOW to walk more effectively. Wonder though, what other benefits a refreshing walk will bring you? Go to Living Longer via Walking to bolster your motivation, reasons to get out and about, and your LIFE!
ACTION: Subscribe if you haven’t already and receive your free booklet “Fitness Myths that Weaken Your Abs.”
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA