Make Fitness Fun in 2021

Top 10 activities for you to stay in shape this season

By Kyra Mancine

Happy New Year! It’s time to head outside and get active. Don’t let the cold weather stop you. Dress in layers, grab a friend or family member and get started.

Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week? Choose from this list and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your exercise and fitness goals this year.

1. Walking — The Erie Canal Trail offers hundreds of miles of flat and scenic paths across Upstate New York, making it ideal for all ages. Pick a different section each week and start racking up those miles. Visit for an interactive map with descriptions of each section of the canal path.

2. Chasing Waterfalls — Many waterfall trails are inaccessible in winter due to treacherous conditions. However, these are safe to trek to, making the walk well worth the reward.

• Niagara Falls, 332 Prospect St., Niagara Falls. The colder it gets, the more breathtaking this trip becomes. The falls never freeze entirely, however the combination of the cold and wind (especially the effect on the trees opposite the falls) make this your winter wonderland workout.

• Taughannock Falls, 1740 Taughannock Blvd., Trumansburg — These falls, at 215 feet, are three stories taller than Niagara Falls. You can view them from the overlook or take the ¾ mile flat trail to the bottom. This is one of the only gorge trails in the New York state trail system open in the winter.

• Upper, Lower & Middle Falls — Letchworth State Park, 6786 County Road 38, Castile. There are many trails and areas you can hike in order to view these spectacular waterfalls. If we get a really frigid season, you can see the “Ice Volcano” outside the Glen Iris inn. This ice “mountain” grows when the fountain in the pond freezes. Note some entrances of the park will close depending upon conditions.

3. Learning to Snowshoe — The city of Rochester offers snowshoe rentals at the Recreation Bureau Office at 400 Dewey Ave. You can also rent snowshoes at the Hansen Nature Center (1525 Calkins Road, Pittsford) and the Helmer Nature Center in Irondequoit (154 Pinegrove Ave., Rochester).

4. Start a Running Streak — Track how many days you can finish a mile or more. Or, make your goal to run or walk a marathon (26.2 miles) by the end of the month. Get creative — you could plot your course to go around one or more of the Finger Lakes or across New York state — without ever having to leave your own town. If you’re looking for a virtual race for added motivation and accountability, visit

5. Outdoor Ice Skating — You’ll heat up quickly as you torch calories on the rink. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park offers rentals and season passes. You can also ice skate at Churchville Park (bring your own skates) and Ellison Park.

6. Downhill and Cross-Country Skiing — Head to Bristol Mountain (38 slopes), Swain (35 trails) or Hunt Hollow in Naples (80 acres of trails) for your skiing adventure (including lessons), day or night.

7. Snowboarding — Combining elements of surfing, skateboarding and skiing, your snowboarding experience awaits at Brantling Ski & Snowboard Center in Sodus, Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua, Swain Ski Resort or Kissing Bridge in Glenwood. Many resorts offer a ‘snowboard school” for beginners. Visit for additional information, including instructional videos and up-to-date snow conditions.

8. Sledding — You’re never too old to go sledding! If you want to go beyond smaller slopes in your neighborhood or backyard, there are plenty of places to hike up that hill and fly down it. A few cool spots include parks in Pittsford-Mendon Ponds (try the hill on Douglas Road and Canfield Road) and Powder Mills Park (near the North and South lodges), Black Creek Park in Chili, Ellison Park in Penfield, Cobbs Hill in Rochester and Webster Park.

9. Snow Tubing — Looking for a dose of adrenaline and adventure? Give snow tubing a try! These rubber inflatable discs are faster than a sled and intended to maneuver over special courses with moguls and bumps. Snow Tubing at Greystone (1400 Atlantic Ave., Walworth) offers a 10-lane, 1,000-foot snow-tubing run. For more information, visit If you’re willing to travel a little farther, head to the Holiday Valley Tubing Company (5673 Bryant Hill Road, Ellicottville) or Greek Peak Adventure Center (1856 NYS Route 392, Cortland) which offers a tubing center with 18 lanes.

10. Hiking — The city of Rochester offers free Weekend Park Hikes for youth and adults from 10-11:30 a.m. starting January 16th. They will even provide snowshoes if conditions warrant. Hikes include Washington Grove, Seneca Park and Turning Point Park. Visit for more details. In addition, there are 21 parks in Monroe County that total 12,00 acres with miles of trails to choose from. Visit for more information.

Editor’s Note: Due to COVID-19 and CDC and county guidelines, it’s advisable to check each venue for hours, availability, and protocols (including advanced online registration) regarding upcoming events.

Photo: Niagara Falls never freezes entirely, however the combination of the cold and wind make this your winter wonderland workout. Shown is a mist rising above the falls at Niagara Falls State Park.