Losing weight and getting fit may be two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in America, but they’re also two of the most commonly broken. There are lots of reasons—busy work schedules, not knowing where or how to start a fitness routine, etc.—but they all equate to one thing: our not reaching our health goals for another year.
Whoever said “Variety is the spice of life!” isn’t far off; changing things up is not only good for our muscles, but good for our minds as well. And that’s what makes trails so great; not only do they provide us safe places to be physically active—they also provide us with safe places to get to other great places to be physically active!
That being said, here are just a few trail destination ideas that can help you keep this year's health resolution interesting, and keep it—full stop!
Exercise circuits aren’t just for the gym; many trails offer fitness stations along their routes, like the Hudson Valley Rail-Trail’s half-mile parcourse fitness circuit, for example. Some are certainly more complex than others, and you’ll want to research if and where they fall along a particular trail, but a great thing is that you can basically work them in at your own pace and skill level.
Parks and Playgrounds
In some cases, the organization that manages a trail is the same organization that manages the local park system, and in other cases, a trail manager and a park system might be working in partnership with each other, resulting in many trails leading to, or connecting to spurs that lead to, parks and playgrounds. Why not take that brisk walk to the park with your children, have a healthy picnic, get in that play time and take a brisk return walk home—all the healthier and happier for it?
Ball Fields and Courts
There are often public, first-come, first-serve sports facilities located along trails and pedestrian walkways; for example, there are multiple spots along the Armagosa Trail in Nevada where you can access baseball fields, and volleyball, basketball and tennis courts (you’ll even find horseshoe pits and a splash pad). If you don’t mind toting a little sports equipment along with you on your trail ride or run, you might make a date with a pal to shoot a few hoops or hit the trail with a friend on your way to the soccer field? (Be sure to check for hours of operation!)
Recreation Centers/Fitness Centers
Does your trail or favorite biking/walking route connect to a public recreation center (like the one along the Monon Trail in Indiana, for example)? If so, you might stop off your route for a little weight lifting or Zumba, or hit an organic gardening class? A lot of centers do charge a membership fee or small admission fee, but the upside is that many offer a huge variety of health and wellness classes, and physical activity opportunities—from swimming, to martial arts, to dance, to weights, to spin classes and more.
So...when you’re out on the trail this year, be sure take advantage of all the benefits your local trails have to offer! It will make it more interesting and more fun to achieve your health goals this year—and for years to come!