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Best Outdoor Spots in Shelby, Utica to Get Fit

Learn tips on where and how to get fit locally.

You don’t need a gym membership or indoor exercise equipment to get a great workout. Shelby Township, Utica, and the surrounding communities are home to both paved and natural trails that are a sure-fire way to get fit without the treadmill. But before you hit the trails running, there are a few things to consider. 

Certain beginners or some who haven’t exercised in a while may want to see a doctor before starting a new routine, according to Dr. Brian Rill, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist from the Henry Ford Medical Center- Lakeside facility in Sterling Heights. Those who are older than 40, and people with certain medical conditions may want to seek advice from a physician before getting active. “If you have any medical problems, see a doctor first,” Rill said. 

Next, consider developing a sensible routine that you can easily fit into your schedule and start slow. A good rule of thumb is 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week; however, beginners might want to build up to that schedule. For example, three 10-minute blocks of exercise may be easier to accomplish than one, long half-hour routine. 

Nancy Smith, an avid runner who has completed 11 Boston Marathons and is chairperson of the , believes finding a supportive partner is an important first step in any exercise program. Once you have a partner, find a path or develop your own nearby route to walk, run, rollerblade, bike or whatever suits you. “It’s best to try and stay local and there’s so many opportunities close by,” Smith said. 

Some great local places include , where there’s a paved six-mile long trail that surrounds Stony Creek lake. The path is marked every quarter mile and combines gradual hills and flat straight stretches. “Stony Creek is a hidden treasure,” said Smith, who regularly runs at the park.  

Like Stony Creek, Riverbends Park in Shelby Township also has a marked, paved trail that’s approximately 1.6 miles long and another gravel trail that’s about 2.5 miles in length. The is another option, as is the Paint Creek trail in neighboring Rochester Hills and in Ray Township. There are some smaller trails in the Utica and Shelby Township parks. If you don’t want to use one of the trails above, consider developing a walking path in your neighborhood. 

Once you’ve determined where you’ll go and how often, consider investing in a pair of new shoes. Ask for advice on the best shoes for the exercise that you’re planning to do. “If you buy new shoes, then you really are making a commitment,” Smith said. 

Along with new shoes, you’ll need a water bottle for before, during and after the workout. Rill suggests drinking 16 ounces of water (not sports drinks) two to three hours prior to the workout. Don’t forget sunscreen, bug spray if necessary, and to dress according to the weather. 

If you’re at the park with kids, consider playing with them instead of just watching the action, Rill said. Or, ask a personal trainer for advice on some simple strength exercises, such as lunges. Try lunges while holding onto a park bench. Use something that will work as a light weight and practice some bicep curls. “There’s a lot that you can do, but you should ask a trainer first to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly,” Rill said. 

ShelbyReader May 07, 2011 at 11:25 AM
Some of the information on the River Bends trails is inaccurate. River Bends (including Woodall Neighborhood Park on the west side) has three asphalt covered trails and one main gravel trail. One of the asphalt trails begin at the Park’s 22 Mile entrance goes southwest for 1 mile to River Bends Drive, round trip 2 miles. Across from this trail, at River Bends Drive, there is another 1.25 mile asphalt trail that circles around Woodall Neighborhood Park: it goes past the Shadbush Nature Center and the fire station on Ryan Road. The third asphalt trail was constructed in 2009 and intersects the first trail about 3/8 mile south of 22 mile road. This trail is 1 mile long, 2 miles round trip. If you walked all three asphalt trails in one outing, your walk would be over 5 miles. The 2009 asphalt trail destroyed half of the 2.5 mile nature trail you referred to in your article. The remnants of that trail begin where the 2009 trail ends and it is worth the effort to walk the remaining section of that nature trail. In some sections of the trail you think you are on a country road 100 years ago and in other sections you think you are walking through a forest in Northern Michigan up north. The natural trail has a totally different feeling from the asphalt trails.

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