Stick To Your New Year’s Resolution

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Wisconsin's state parks and forests provide hundreds of miles of cross-country ski trails, such as this trail in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest near Boulder Junction in Vilas County.Enjoy Wisconsin’s great outdoors for fun, exercise this winter

MADISON – Among the legions who pledge to fight the “battle of the bulge” in the new year? Join the club in the state’s biggest gym – the outdoors – where an exercise specialist predicts chances of winning the health game are in your favor.

“If we can encourage everybody to get outside, we’re going to have much better adherence to those New Year’s resolutions,” said David Supple, a lecturer in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Kinesiology Activity Program who teaches running, ice skating, cycling and cross training classes.

A trail trek on the snowshoes, a stride or skate lap on the cross-country skis or gliding around a rink are fun for any age – solo or in a group. The opportunities are immense. Figure out your fancy and check out the Winter Fun page of the DNR Web site to learn more.

“If you’re outside walking, hiking, sledding, cross-country skiing, ice skating or doing some other winter activity, you’re often getting stronger muscles and fitness from that activity itself,” Supple said. “There is no need to get to a gym.”

Climbing the sledding hill a few times offers efficient strength training for the most important muscle in the body – the heart – while burning calories. “You’re weighted down by your equipment, which includes your heavy clothes and your winter boots, so your body is working harder and it’s burning more energy just to stay warm,” Supple said.

Tubing and sledding are loads of fun and the long slog up to the top of the hill can help get you fit. Hiking, pond hockey snow shoeing work the heart and all the big muscles in the body while also burning calories. Cross country skiing “may be just about the most complete exercise out there,” said Supple, an avid cross-country skier.

Wisconsin is rich with places for winter recreation – some right near your backyard.

“The Wisconsin State Park System, for example, has something for people of all ages and fitness levels,” Supple said, adding he has cross-country skied at three state parks in the last three weeks.

“We’re not stuck on an elliptical, we’re not stuck on a treadmill,” he said. “Think outside the box and get outside the gym.”