Updated December 14th, 2023

6 tips to tackle your New Year’s resolutions outdoors this year

The new year has many people feeling the pressure to improve their lives by adopting new habits. “New Year, new you,” is the common trope associated with resolutions, although studies show that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. So, rather than “new year, new you,” perhaps think, “new year, new habits” — and look to time in nature to help.

Here are a few ways you can use the outdoors to build healthier habits and meet your goals in 2024:

Body Moving: According to Statista, 50% of resolution adoptees had a goal to improve their fitness level and exercise more in 2021. If this is your goal in 2024, skip crowded gyms and focus on achieving your fitness goals outdoors. Thanks to changing terrain and extra sunshine, moving your body outside is often more productive than sticking to standard gym equipment. Additionally, exercising outdoors has a host of stress-relieving benefits beyond the release of endorphins you get while working out.

MetroParks Tip: Instead of making a general resolution to exercise more, make your resolution specific and attainable. For example, make a resolution to work out four times a week for at least 30 minutes.

Those who haven’t worked out in a while may need to set different goals than someone who works out regularly but wants to step up their fitness game. Here are some good places to start outdoors, depending on your activity level:

  • Beginners: A great place to start moving your body is on MetroParks’ Heart Healthy Trails. These short, easy-to-traverse trails are walkable at a brisk pace and marked every quarter mile to help you keep track of your pace. Find these trails at Eastwood, Englewood, Carriage Hill, Wegerzyn Gardens and Island MetroParks and on the Wolf Creek Trail.
  • Intermediate: Dust off your bike and start taking winter rides to run errands. This is a green way to check things off your to-do list and fit in some exercise.

Also, consider hiking longer trails or those with more difficult terrain. The 3.2-mile orange trail at Taylorsville MetroPark has a lot of varying elevation. The orange trails at Twin Creek and Germantown MetroParks are also great options.

Those who can tackle longer trails can create a goal to embark on a weekend backpacking adventure to complete the 29-mile Twin Valley Trail, which connects Germantown and Twin Creek MetroParks.

Step up your cardio game by running the trails, a great way to build stamina and train for races. Start by running paved trails or MetroParks’ Heart Healthy Trails, and then move on to longer trails with more difficult terrain.

  • Advanced: Hiking or trail running the Twin Valley Trail is an excellent way to get ready for a longer backpacking trip, race, competition or marathon.

Additionally, if you are looking to plan a bike tour or bikepacking adventure, look no further than the region’s more than 350 miles of paved trails – the nation’s largest paved trail network. Visit miamivalleytrails.org or greatmiamiriverway.org to plan your local adventures.

Keep your mind in mind: While many focus on their physical health, mental health is equally as important. As we enter the second winter of the pandemic, a time during which feelings of stress, anxiety and depression aren’t uncommon may be even more taxing on mental health.

While nature is not a replacement for talking to a professional, it has been proven to provide myriad health benefits. Learn more about boosting your mental health in nature and how to focus on your mental health in the new year.

Fuel your body right: Some of the top resolutions in 2023 were to “living healthier.”  While losing extra weight is a goal for many, a “healthy” body looks different on every person, so keep that in mind when you are stepping on the scale.

Rather than a goal weight or fitting into a certain size clothing, talk to your doctor about what your ideal blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood sugar and cholesterol levels should be and how you can change your lifestyle to achieve these health wellness goals.

For many, adding physical activity and eating a balanced diet filled with healthy produce can help you lose weight and lessen your risk of serious conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

  • Shop fresh and local: Purchasing produce that is grown locally is often healthier and less taxing on the environment. Search for what is in season and visit farmers markets, such as the 2nd Street Market, to buy directly from local growers
  • Plan a garden: Gardening can be quite a workout since it involves lifting, squatting, digging and more. Additionally, you reap the tasty rewards of your harvest. Plant veggies you will eat and take the time to find healthy ways to prepare them.

Those who want to coax kiddos into eating more veggies can invite their children to get in on the gardening fun. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables they’ve helped grow and prepare.

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Learn more about gardening for health and how to start a garden.

  • Meatless Mondays: See if you can incorporate more plants into your diet by preparing meals that are meat-free and filled with whole grains. Skipping meat is also an earth-friendly choice, as the meat industry contributes heavily to carbon emissions.

If the idea of making a salad every Monday bores you, try cuisines that focus on plant-based proteins, such as Indian and Thai cuisine. Learn more about healthy and sustainable eating from Lester and Larry Gates, owners of Invoke, located at the 2nd Street Market.

  • Eat the rainbow: Not all produce is created the same, though you may be able to find them all in the garden. For example, root veggies tend to be starchy and can add to your carb count but are packed with fiber. Colored peppers, berries and greens pack an antioxidant and vitamin punch. Rather than sticking with potatoes or corn as your go-to veggies, try something with vibrant color to beautify yourself and your plate.

New (low-cost) adventures with family: An impressive amount of resolution adopters vowed to save money in 2021. Also important, people resolved to spend more time with family and find new hobbies.

Many people see dollars signs when it comes to outings with family and new hobbies, but using the outdoors as a venue can fit in any budget.

Your Five Rivers MetroParks are open year-round and free to the public – no memberships, no admission. You can explore the trails with your family, work toward your fitness goals, find new hobbies and much more in your MetroParks.

  • Try it out: MetroParks offers a wide variety of programs, including free “Try Its,” which allow participants to try outdoor recreation activities for free. From mountain biking to paddling, you and your family can try a new activity before you commit to purchasing gear. Look for winter/spring 2024 programs to be posted online.
  • Plan a staycation: Vacations are great, but if you’re looking for family fun that’s easier on your wallet, camp in one of your Five Rivers MetroParks. No gear? No problem! Five Rivers MetroParks offers backpacking and camping packages that allow your family to set up camp with all the necessities and instructions you’ll need to have an awesome family weekend.
  • Get some support: It’s paramount that the outdoors be equitably accessible to all, which is why the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation offers an Access to Nature financial assistance program to offset costs for many MetroParks programs, rentals, program kits and more. Qualifying Montgomery County residents of all ages can apply for assistance by visiting metroparks.org/access.
  • Join a local club: Building your skills and knowledge from seasoned adventurers can ensure you’re in the know when it comes to the best places to adventure, shop for new/used gear and much more. It’s also a great way to build both skills and friendships. Learn more at outdoordayton.com.

Go green: Changing your day-today lifestyle to incorporate more sustainable habits means your home and local environments are healthier places to be. Many sustainable practices can also help you save money, resources and allow you to work on your fitness goals. For example, walking or biking to work can help you burn calories, save you dollars on gas and keep carbon out of the air. From composting to recycling right, MetroParks has a comprehensive guide to help you live a greener lifestyle.

Give a little bit: An altruistic resolution that is on many people’s lists: giving back to their communities through time or treasure.

At Five Rivers MetroParks, volunteers are an extended part of the MetroParks family. Whether you want to volunteer during a special event, a day of service or a long-term opportunity, MetroParks has a volunteer position for you.

MetroParks volunteers work alongside MetroParks professionals, discover new hobbies, make new friends and build new skills.

Volunteering is easier than ever with MetroParks’ new Get Connected site. Fill out your volunteer profile, participate in trainings and search for opportunities all in the same digital space. Learn more about becoming a MetroParks volunteer.

One of the easiest ways to support MetroParks is by becoming a Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation Champion. Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation Champions go above and beyond to support MetroParks’ mission to protect the region’s natural heritage and provide outdoor experiences that inspire a personal connection with nature. Your monthly gift helps fund special projects and programs throughout the parks, many of which would not be possible without the public’s support.

Because the Foundation is a nonprofit organization, your gift is tax-deductible. Champions also receive exclusive donor gear. Become a Champion.


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