TRAVERSE CITY — Partner with Mother Nature this winter to keep your New Year’s resolution to improve health and fitness.

The region’s plethora of trails, rinks and slopes provide fun workouts across northern Michigan’s winter wonderland.

“Exercising outdoors pleases the senses —seeing the landscape and nature, smelling the scents of winter, hearing different sounds and feeling the snow under your feet,” said Traverse City Track Club Executive Director Lisa Taylor.

The club’s weekly 3 and 5-mile fun runs are open to all ages and abilities. Its annual Frozen Foot Race on Jan. 18 kicks off the 2020 marathon training season. Events include a 5-mile run/walk and 1-mile kids fun run. A 16-week winter training session for serious runners starts Feb. 3.

Winter’s silent sports offer a variety of ways to up your exercise routine. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and hit the trails to exercise your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. Snowshoeing also improves cardio, balance, agility and endurance.

Area trails provide plenty of snowshoe adventuring grounds, but there are ways to spice up the experience. Old Mission Snowshoe, Wine & Brew treks take place every Sunday afternoon until early March.

Board the TC Brew Bus at Jolly Pumpkin’s tasting room, then snowshoe to Brys Estate Vineyard and Winery, Bowers Harbor and back. Warm up with a “snowflight” of five taste samples at each stop.

Add a little culture to the snowshoe experience with a trek through Michigan Legacy Art Park at Crystal Mountain Resort at Thompsonville. Nearly 50 art installations line the wooded trail along park’s 30 acres. The Art Park is open daily throughout the winter for self-guided experiences. Guided snowshoe tours are available Sunday afternoons through January.

Night owls can get their thrills at Grass River Nature Preserve’s nighttime guided snowshoe hikes — and maybe even spot a few owls within the 1,492-acre reserve. The Antrim County nature center offers a naturalist-led a Lantern-Lit trek Jan. 17 and a Moonlight Snowshoe event Feb. 7.

Prep yourself to challenge fitness and athletic skills February 8 – 9 at the North American Vasa Festival of Races at Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort in Traverse City. Youth and adult freestyle and classic ski races and fun tours are event traditions. New this year is the 6 – 8km Vasasaurus Stomp snowshoe event and a new and improved fat bike race course.

Ice skating looks easy and graceful, but it provides a solid lower body and core workout. Traverse City’s free neighborhood ice rink parks open daily beginning mid-January. They’re located at Thirlby Field at 14th and Pine Street, Rose Street near Carver at Traverse Heights Elementary School and F&M Park on State Street between Railroad and Hope.

Suttons Bay maintains a lighted rink at the open space at the corner of Broadway and Lincoln streets for ice skating and pick-up hockey. In Mid-February the rink hosts a competitive pond hockey tournament.

Marcus Matthews, Wellness Manager at Crystal Mountain’s Peak Fitness Center suggests focusing winter fitness on four areas —strength, cardio, flexibility and recovery.

“A lot of people forget recovery,” he noted.

Matthews said winter activities stress the back, knees, ankles and hips and that a lesson in your sport of choice can ensure a safer experience.

Mixing outdoor and indoor workouts can provide the best of both worlds for keeping fitness resolutions.

“Indoor workouts combining resistance training, strength, and cardio can help with any outdoor activities,” said Shane Ballard, Health and Wellness Director for Grand Traverse Bay YMCA.

If goals are more modest, traditional family activities can offer motivation for getting off the couch. Grab the kids, a sled and head to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore’s Dune Climb north of Empire for the ultimate sledding experience. Hauling a sled or tube to the top of the 300-foot dune is a respectable workout rewarding climbers with thrills equal to the the challenge of reaching its peak.

You don’t have to go farther than the backyard to rally the kids for a snowball fight, to build a snowman or to make a heavenly host of snow angels. It will keep you moving and generate happy 2020 family memories.

“Exercising outdoors pleases the senses —seeing the landscape and nature, smelling the scents of winter, hearing different sounds and feeling the snow under your feet.” Traverse City Track Club Executive Director Lisa Taylor

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