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For Better Health, Take It Outdoors


By Megan Torrini

Exercise (both indoor and outdoor) is hugely popular in today's health conscious society, and the Minneapolis- St. Paul area is no exception. The Twin Cities metro area is a top contender when it comes to eating smart, living well and being fit. The stats are impressive:

  • Biking Magazine ranked Minneapolis-St. Paul as one of the top 15 best cities for mountain biking.

  • St. Paul was named a top "Sportstown" by Sports Illustrated.

  • Men's Fitness magazine named Minneapolis-St. Paul "Most Athletic City" in 2006 and one of the Top 10 Fittest Cities in 2007.

  • Minneapolis received accolades as the Most Athletic City and was recognized as a City that Watches the Least TV by Men's Fitness.

  • Runner's World Magazine named Minneapolis the second Best Urban Area in the country for running.

The outdoor environment, with its beautiful and naturally diverse ecosystem, not only lets you enjoy the view, it improves mental focus and emotional well being. No matter where you choose, the beautiful backdrop of Minnesota's trails, both urban as well as park trails, is perfect for a morning jog, an afternoon stroll, hiking, biking and in-line skating.

Fitness enthusiasts of all ages love Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Filled with grandiose homes, this tree-lined parkway is the place to go for neighborhood joggers and bikers. With a distance of 5 miles, the Summit Avenue Parkway runs from the State Capitol to the Mississippi River Boulevard.

With very few traffic encounters, St. Anthony Main located on Main Street at Central Avenue in Minneapolis is sure to be a hit for any jogging enthusiast. St. Anthony Main overlooks the Mississippi River and was once the center of the Village of St. Anthony. It has the oldest brick and stone buildings in the city, dating back to the 1850s. Today St. Anthony Main has been restored and is the site of beautiful and unique buildings to keep you entertained as you walk or jog on by.

The country's longest continuous system of public urban parkways, the Grand Rounds, is located in Minneapolis. The Grand Rounds consist of 50.1 miles of parkways and provide a complete circle of paths from which to view the city. The paths feature some great views including Minnehaha Falls, the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline. Take a slight detour and visit the culturally diverse neighborhoods, or finish up your workout at a local restaurant or pub.

For those not interested in pounding the pavement in the urban areas, park trails with varying terrain can be found throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area:

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is located only 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis. Its 34 miles of river bottoms teaming with wildlife and natural amenities make it one of only four urban wildlife refuges in the United States and perfect for jogging, walking, biking, hiking and in-line skating.

In St. Paul, enjoy the beautiful urban landscape as you bike, hike or jog along the Mississippi Gorge Trail. Great for an intense incline push or even a slow cooldown this pleasant urban trail follows the bluffs and takes you along one of the steepest and deepest sections of the Mississippi River.

St. Paul's Afton State Park contains more than 20 miles of trails that criss-cross oak savannas and follow ravines into the bluffs of the St. Croix River. This park provides serious trails, expansive river beaches, and myriad vistas of the beautiful St. Croix River and valley.

Now that winter is on its way out, get out there, get fit and enjoy all that Minneapolis-St. Paul has to offer.

Megan has a range of education and experience-from Resource Management and Forestry to Information Technology. She also enjoys freelance writing and is currently developing her own online business. Megan lives in Inver Grove Heights with her husband Tony, daughter Isabel, son John, and two beautiful but very naughty Siberian Huskies, Mika and Timber.

Categories: Feature Stories, Things To Do, Twin Cities Picks,

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