Green TransportationHealthy Living

Balance Winter

Despite the beautiful warm weather we’ve enjoyed this fall in Madison, winter will soon be here. And now that the holidays are in full swing you might find it difficult to enjoy the balance you need in life just to endure the weeks of December that remain until the beginning of the New Year. Today is the best time to build momentum to start 2017 in good health and prosperity. Through a variety of different free or low cost activities and events around town you can discover daily opportunities to make your life in Madison just a bit more balanced.

ngc20162101-1Winter Biking

The City of Madison and adjoining communities of Dane County have more than 200 miles of bicycle and walking paths. Don’t let the winter snow frighten you away from riding to work or for recreation. Municipal bike paths are often plowed even before city streets to encourage smooth commuter traffic. Well-lit at night for safety Madison bike routes offer easy accessibility to most destinations downtown. And pedestrian/bike bridges and highway overpasses make it possible to venture out and back to nearby neighborhoods in McFarland, Fitchburg, Verona, Monona and Middleton. Here’s a comprehensive guide for you’ll need to know about riding this winter:

ngc20162101-4Nature Walks

Spending time outside is always an option during the even the coldest months of the year. As long as you dress properly for conditions, lace up appropriate footwear and drink plenty of fluids you can explore a wide variety of different hiking trails throughout Madison. The Parks department has a complete list of trail maps and event schedules for locations that include the UW Arboretum, Elver Park and Cherokee Marsh. Other hiking trails include the grounds around the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy and the Lussier Family Heritage Center. And several sections of the Ice Age Trail, a state-wide National Scenic Trail, are accessible at many sites across Dane County.

ngc20162101-3Indoor Activities

If you don’t want to brave the cold or in case of inclement weather Madison also has several options for enjoying recreation inside. On Tuesdays and Thursday through December 22nd the Monona Terrace Convention Center offers free noon-time yoga classes. Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) on the Westside has free seminars on outdoor actives like winter camping, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The Madison Children’s Museum offers several recurring art, science and music classes for young people. And the Overture Center is offering a free program to teach kids about rhymes, opposites, seasons, animals, and more through the power of song.

ngc20162101-5The key to making it through the winter is a positive mental attitude.

“Exercise has been shown to reduce depression and help prevent it in the future, and research shows it can be as effective as medication,” said UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD in a recent article. “To gain the most benefit, exercise at least three times a week for at least a half hour at a time.”

Just being aware of your mood and emotions can help to cultivate a more balanced perspective of your daily life. Staying active really makes a difference!

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James Mills

James Edward Mills is a freelance journalist who specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving, and practices of sustainable living. He has worked in the outdoor industry since 1989 as a guide, outfitter, independent sales representative, writer, and photographer. He is the author of the new book “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors” and the co-writer/co-producer of the documentary film An American Ascent. James has written for the Wisconsin State Journal, Madison Magazine, and Wisconsin Trails. He is currently a contributor to several outdoor-focused print and online publications such as National Geographic Adventure, Rock & Ice, Alpinist, SUP, Elevation Outdoors, Women’s Adventure, the, Park Advocate, High Country News, Land & People, Outside Magazine and The Guardian

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