By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage
Some people go to the gym to workout, which is great. These days, between working many hours and long commutes, it’s tough to find time to workout and relax and still spend time with your loved ones. Why not combine your fitness routine with a little nature, add your family and or friends and explore the peace and fresh air afforded you by spending time in the forest.
In the Chicago area, there are approximately 50-60 different forest preserve trails within an hour or so of the downtown area. Many people enjoy the lakefront, but that’s the problem–many people. If you want a quieter bike ride, hike or even a horseback ride, the Forest Preserves are less crowded, much more wooded and often actually quiet!
Biking in the Forest Preserves
Biking in the Forest Preserves can be a great workout and a nice way to relax, enjoy the company of family and friends and see something other than buildings, concrete and cars. Speed training or racing is not permitted so you are less likely to get run over by a fast-paced bike racer!
Families with small children can take their little ones along on bike rides with a bike trailer such as the Childrens bike trailers shown here.
On one our of forest preserve bike rides, we came across a family that brought along the bikes for mom and dad and the eldest daughter, then packed up their two little girls in the bike trailer for the dad to pull. In this way, the whole family got to ride together and dad got a super workout (especially up hills!)
Cook County Forest Preserves
Cook County Forest Preserves provides 100 miles of paved bicycle trails and over 200 miles of multi-use trails in the Forest Preserve for bikers, joggers, walkers (and in winter, snow shoe-ers and cross country skiers!) to enjoy. Cook County Trail System Maps here.
And did you know that in Cook County, there are 27 lakes, ponds, quarries, reservoirs and sloughs to enjoy! Check out the listing of water sources in Cook County here.
DuPage Forest Preserves
DuPage Forest Preserves offer over 145 miles of on-foot explorations from seldom-traveled footpaths to wide limestone trails.
Lake County Forest Preserves
Lake County Forest Preserves offers Forest Fitness sessions which are “Fast-paced group fitness hikes feature a different preserve each week.” For more info click here.
Lake County Forest Preserves Map here.
Will County Forest Preserves
Where ever you live, there are likely forest preserves and national parks in your area. Take advantage of this free (no membership needed!) natural gym for you and your family. And get your fitness in the forest!