McHenry County offers outdoor exercise opportunities providing added health benefits

For Valerie Koehn of Crystal Lake, exercise isn’t always just hopping on treadmills or elliptical machines inside her local fitness center.

Sometimes it’s exploring McHenry County’s many nature trails, learning about clouds, watching butterflies soar, playing a game of searching for gnomes or gathering prairie seeds to help reseed conservation parks.

It is doing something she enjoys, which is what fitness experts say is the key to continuing and benefiting from an exercise routine long term.

“It keeps me moving, keeps me young,” Koehn, 72, said. “My mom didn’t move. … then she couldn’t move.”

Pat Reed, fitness manager with Northwestern Medicine Huntley Health and Fitness Center, encourages outdoor activity for mind and body.

“Find something you like to do and do that something outdoors,” Reed said. “If the motivation is just weight loss or building strength versus if you actually enjoy it, your exercising is better. Whether rollerblading, cycling

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