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Michigan's cold weather is more tolerable when spending time in a fun activity with friends and family. photo by Renee Landuyt.

January 09, 2014
Editor's Note: This is the first of a four-part series on improving health and life styles.

A common new year's resolution is to eat healthy and exercise more.

Those resolutions quickly fall by the wayside with excuses ranging from inclement weather, early onset of darkness to a good book needs to be read or pressing meetings to attend.

Fortunately, Grosse Pointe parks offer several exercise areas to its residents, with paths on which to walk, rinks on which to ice skate, hills to sled down and areas to snowshoe and cross country ski. These are all to help residents enjoy their parks year round while enjoying the Michigan winter.

"Michigan is a great place to live," said Peter Rodin D.O., a family medicine doctor with Beaumont Hospital. With four seasons to enjoy the outdoors, it's just a matter of dressing for the weather. Avoid cotton that absorbs moisture and robs the body of heat, he pointed out

"The key is making sure to take the appropriate precaution — layering. Once you get moving, the heat needs to be dissipated. Moisture is the killer," he said. "Have a light base layer, with the appropriate layer you can take off as needed. Stay away from cotton."

Once dressed and outside take a look around.

"It's beautiful," said Terry Solomon of Grosse Pointe Park parks and recreation department from her office. "I'm looking at the marina, the lake and the blue sky."

Christopher Harden-brook, City parks and recreation director echoes Solomon's words.

"We have a beautiful lake front park. It's gorgeous by the lake with the freighters going by, the water fowl. It's silly to be taking advantage of the park only in the warm months. If you dress appropriately, there is something about getting out to the clean, crisp air."

Parks and recreation directors encourage residents to take advantage of cleared paths for walking, ice rinks, both refrigerated and Mother Nature cooled, and sledding hills.

In addition to the Neff ice rink, open from noon to 7 p.m. daily, platform tennis is offered there. City residents pay $100 and non-residents pay $150.

Four people play platform tennis on a raised outdoor court in an activity that is growing in popularity in the Pointes, Hardenbrook say.

"It's a great alternative to keep up your skills and (remain) active in winter," he said.

The City, Farms and Woods all have cleared walking paths in their parks.

According to the Woods recreation supervisor Nikki Byron, the Lake Front park's plowed and salted walking trail is 1.3 miles.

"It's very popular," she said.

"It's cleared of snow for the walkers," Harden-brook said of the 1/2 mile path at Neff Park.

Ice skating lessons for 3 year olds through adults have been offered for about four years to provide more opportunities to get out during the winter, said Kara Reynolds, the Farms assistant recreation and aquatic coordinator. The rink at Pier Park is refrigerated. For hockey players, the city offers a rink at Kerby Park and is weather dependent, meaning it is not refrigerated.

Solomon couldn't say which is more popular — the sledding hill or the ice rink. After school, the sledding hill, to which residents bring their own sleds and saucers, is a good place to meet friends.

"It's big with families," she said.

The Park's refrigerated kidney-shaped ice rink is smoothed twice a day by a city-owned Zamboni. The rink is patrolled for safety purposes and a lodge offers a place to warm up. Hot coffee and cocoa are also available. Because of the rink's shape, ice hockey cannot be played on it.

Indoor yoga, Pilates and spinning classes and a work-out room are offered in the Lavins Center for those who would rather burn off those calories gained from Christmas cookies.

Lake Front Park in the Woods has an outdoor skating ice rink. Indoor exercise opportunities are available, including tread mills, a half-court gym, racquetball and a pingpong table. Byron also pointed out the city has three other parks available to residents with ice rinks, weather permitting. The pocket park, Sweeney, with access from Ford, Baltree, Clairview or Fair courts, Chene-Trombly Park at Ridgemont and Mack and Ghesquiere Park all have maintained, non-refrigerated ice rinks.

There is another benefit from skating at a local rink or meeting at the Vernier sledding hill (in the Shores), Rodin said.

"Socialization is important for mental health. Walking with friends keeps you mentally and physically fit," Rodin added.

Winter does provide opportunities to stay fit.

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