While we are all hoping to find safe and satisfying ways to celebrate the holidays, it is also important that we stay active through this time in order to maintain our physical and mental health. 

There is a common myth that people gain 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. However, 2016 research by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that there is an average weight gain, but it is more likely to be 1 or 2 pounds. The problem is that we tend not to lose that pound or two in the months to come, so that weight accumulates over that time.

If you stay active, you are less likely to gain weight and more likely to feel good and stay healthy. Added weight can increase risk for health conditions, like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as many others. Whether your motivation is to maintain your current weight, improve your health or get ready for winter sports like skiing, snowshoeing or winter hiking, staying active is the key. If you can get outdoors to exercise you will experience additional benefits and feelings of well-being. 

During the coming holidays, many people will be missing a family member or friend due to COVID or other circumstances. In order to deal with loss and move forward with a happy, healthy and balanced life, getting some exercise can be an effective first step. 

Levels of activity 

Staying active can mean going for a bike ride in your neighborhood, a hike nearby, or a walk in the park. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activity such as brisk walking, as well as exercise that strengthens muscles two times a week. 

Getting out five days a week for a 30 minute walk or taking longer walks on a couple of days satisfies the recommended 150 minutes of active exercise. Muscle strengthening can be done at the gym with weights or at home with push-ups, sit-ups, yoga or other exercises. Even gardening and dancing can help improve strength. 

If you are considering starting a new exercise, consult with your health care practitioner about how to begin safely, especially if you haven’t been active or are recovering from an injury or surgery.

Places to walk

The Taos Land Trust put together the Taos Healthy Pathways Guide (2018) to identify places in town to get out for a walk. The walks are divided into easy, moderate and harder walks to allow you to choose a trail that is right for you. The trail map is available on the Taos Land Trust website. Dogs must be on a leash for all walks, with the exception of the tennis court at Kit Carson Park, which contains a designated dog park area. Dog owners visiting Kit Carson Park, however, are still required to carry a leash.

Recommended walking paths

Fred Baca Park, plus the Nature Trail and Rio Fernando Park 

The loop around the center green at Fred Baca Park is about 0.25 miles long. The path is paved, and the restrooms are open at the park. There are also picnic tables and a playground. The park closes at 5 p.m. during the winter. This is an easy walk.

To lengthen your trip, add the Fred Baca Nature Trail. Cross the bridge near the playground and walk on gravel paths and elevated walkways through the wetlands area. There are descriptive placards with explanations of traditional uses, birds and beavers. This walk is about 0.5 mile roundtrip and rated "moderate," as there are differing walkway surfaces that can be slippery depending on the weather. This path is lightly-traveled and the sounds of birds can be heard in the wetlands. There are good views of Taos Mountain and El Salto.

For more walking, continue on to the Rio Fernando Park loop, which is also across the bridge and covers 0.25-0.3 miles, depending on which pathway you choose. You will pass by greenhouses and fields that have been developed by Taos Land Trust, which owns and manages the 20 acre property. There are also wide open areas available.

These walks are located at 6,850 feet in elevation and are relatively flat. Fred Baca Park is located off La Posta Road at Camino del Medio. 

Taos Eco Park Loop 

The Eco Park Loop goes around the soccer fields. This paved path totals just about 0.4 miles once around. There is a shelter and bleachers. The bathrooms were closed and water fountains turned off during a recent visit. The gate to the park closes at 5 p.m. This walk is flat and located at 6,880 feet in elevation. The Eco Park is located on Salazar Road near Bertha.

More walks in town

Kit Carson Park loop 

Kit Carson Park covers 19 acres and is located just northeast of Taos Plaza. The park includes a 0.4 mile walking path, as well as a path on the park’s outer edge. The trail passes a basketball court, volleyball pit and baseball fields. There are also picnic shelters, open fields and a playground. Kit Carson Cemetery is located in the park and is more than 150 years old. In addition to Christopher “Kit” Carson, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Padre Martinez, some of those killed during the 1847 Taos Rebellion are buried here. 

Sunset Park 

Sunset Park is a 10-acre site located off Valverde Street. The park is managed by a nonprofit group and there is a conservation easement in place held by the Taos Land Trust that guarantees the area will never be developed. The public is welcome to walk on the trail that circles the park. There are some chairs under small clusters of trees, where you can relax and enjoy the tranquility of the space.

Taos Plaza and John Dunn shops to Bent Street

Officially known as Don Fernando de Taos Plaza, the plaza was built by Spanish colonists more than 300 years ago. It was designed for defensive purposes, with windows and doors facing onto the plaza and closed walls facing outside. The sidewalks are covered on three sides by portals. Extend your walk by connecting with Bent Street via the John Dunn shops. 

For more information 

To find the Taos Healthy Pathways Guide, visit taoslandtrust.org and look under the “resources" tab. Find PDF downloads and the 2018 TLT-RX-Trailbooklet at bit.ly/3CGiFax.

 

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