Take a hike – there’s a whole playground out there.

Hiking — a moderate, feel-good workout — is one of my favorite Island pastimes. It’s fun, free, and always accessible. The health benefits are numerous, but the best part is that the sweeping panoramic views allow you to forget you’re exercising. On Martha’s Vineyard, we’re blessed with a multitude of beautiful hikes that conjoin beach and woods. So whether it’s a quick jaunt on my lunch break or a long Sunday hike, I’m always willing to squeeze in a hike.

A couple of my favorite trails to get my heart racing are Menemsha Hills (it’s named after its hills for a reason) and Great Rock Bight. These both have fairly steep inclines, which are great for raising and lowering your heart rate to rev up your calorie burn. The weather this winter has increased the intensity of my weekly hikes. Dredging through the snow in heavy Bogs boots is a challenge for the quads. Feel like really bulking up? Wear a backpack and collect a few rocks along the way. The woods is a natural playground. I find trees and rocks to climb up on, moving my body in ways I haven’t since I was a kid. It’s surprising how many unused muscles you have.

To navigate, I use the fourth edition of “Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard” by William Flender. Each trail includes a map marked with mileage. It’s exciting to wander, then add up how far you’ve gone.

Endorphins from the exercise increase energy levels, and the fresh air and sunshine help chase away the winter blues. All the more reason hiking is great for both the casual exerciser and the workout enthusiast of any age. When preparing to hike, wear sturdy hiking shoes, proper attire, and bring plenty of water. Don’t forget to smile and say hello to fellow hikers.

See you on the trail.