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April 3, 2017

Get Exercise Without Even Noticing

by John Hastings

Spring weather is nearly upon us (finally!). That means a good-bye to the bitter cold – and hello to the possibility of getting exercise without even noticing. Cardiologist Evelina Grayver, MD, director of the Cardiology Care Unit at North Shore University Hospital, is a huge fan of fresh air workouts. “Being outdoors is a mood booster -- not to mention a stress release,” she says. What’s more, she says, it’s easier to exercise longer in nature. “Twenty minutes on a treadmill feels like a lifetime, but 30 minutes outdoors flies by before you know it.” That extra time matters, because getting at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week is the minimum amount of exercise you need to maintain a healthy heart.

Besides, heading outside makes it easy to change up your routine. Grayver plays on the monkey bars with her 9-year-old daughter, takes outdoor yoga classes and runs on trails. “You don’t need dedicated exercise time when you’re outside,” she says. “You just go out and have fun.” Want some new ideas for active ways to enjoy the spring? Check out these nearby options.

Look for Fauna

Turn a walk into a quest by packing a pair of binoculars and a birding guide next time you head out on your local paths. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and New York’s Central Park are both recognized as top spots for birdwatching; further afield, New Jersey’s Cape May is also celebrated for spring birding. Or check out the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center in Oyster Bay and the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge on Long Island’s south shore. Both offer spring walks that will introduce you to this addictive pursuit.

Browse the Flora

Blossoms are everywhere this time of year, but you can get a concentrated dose and learn how to identify those blooms by visiting some of the gorgeous arboretums and botanical gardens in the area. Two great places to start are the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the New York Botanical Garden. On Long Island, notable arboretums include the Gold Coast’s Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park and Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect responsible for Central Park.

Own the Roads

What would it be like to bicycle, jog, roller skate or just stroll down a major road without having to keep an eye out for cars? Find out on Bicycle Sundays, starting May 7 in Westchester County. A 13-mile loop of the Bronx River Parkway from White Plains to Yonkers is closed to cars from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday through the summer and early fall. Also, check out Central Park, which prohibits all cars on weekends and holidays, and for much of the day on weekdays -- you can get a bike map here. Or explore Long Island bike trails with the New York State Department of Transportation’s guide.