How Are You Doing with Your Resolutions? by Michelle Avola-Brown,

If you are like the millions of people who made New Year’s resolutions in January, you may also be like many of us who have already fallen off the proverbial wagon. Even after a very different 2020, the recurring themes we see each year held true for 2021. The top two goals when our calendars flipped were exercising more and
losing weight. Maybe these health goals are nagging in the back of your mind too. If your resolve is slipping, don’t give up! You can still do it.

Getting more exercise is good for everyone. With continuing concern about COVID-19, going to the gym may not be the best way to get active. When many of us were first sent home last year, the number of people outside walking, running, and biking skyrocketed. The decline in traffic made it safer and more inviting,
but there are still ways to safely enjoy outdoor exercise now that roadways are busy again.

Many communities offer pathways for walking and biking, while others have peaceful streets outside of the usual morning and evening traffic. First thing in the morning, lunchtime, and after dinner are usually the best times to roll out your bike or lace up your sneakers.

When it’s time for some new scenery, check out the Gordon River Greenway or the Rich King Memorial Greenway. Four miles and three miles in length respectively, they have pretty scenery and are separated from the road (and distracted/aggressive drivers). Unfortunately, they are not connected to other trails and fairly
short. Naples Pathways Coalition (NPC) is working to change that, but more on that in a minute.

For more suggestions on places that are safer to walk, run, and bike, NPC has worked with the City of Naples and the Collier MPO to develop and publish the Naples Bicycle and Tourism Map. This map identifies sidewalks, bike lanes, and multi-use pathways, enabling residents and visitors to map out the safest
routes near home or the destinations we want to visit on foot or bike. These maps are available free of charge at all of the Naples bike shops, City and County parks, and you can download the map from NPC’s website: https://NaplesPathways.org/Helpful-Links.

Across the country and across the state, places like Dunedin, Winter Garden and Inverness enjoy extensive, connected multi-modal pathways, but shockingly, Naples does not. Naples Pathways Coalition’s keystone project is the Paradise Coast Trail (the PCT), envisioned to be a 70+ mile trail connecting downtown Naples to Ave Maria, Immokalee, Bonita Springs, Collier Seminole State Park, and beyond. It will be paved, separated from the road, and built exclusively for non-motorized recreation and transportation.

The Paradise Coast Trail will expand transportation options, improve health and wellness, reduce our carbon footprint and provide a destination to experience the Paradise Coast’s unique beauty. It will drive quality of life and healthier lifestyles, yield economic benefits to the county, increase property values, and enable greater safety for walkers, runners, recreational and commuter bicyclists.

With the community’s support, NPC has already raised over $200,000 to fund this project. We were also thrilled when our Local Legislative Funding Request of $250,000 to pay for the Feasibility Study was approved in this year’s State budget. With our work to fast track the project and continued community
support for the PCT, this trail will be built for us to enjoy within years instead of decades from now!

After completion of the feasibility study, the first phase will be connecting the Gordon River Greenway to the Rich King Memorial Greenway then to the new Collier Sports Complex and beyond. Follow progress of the Paradise Coast Trail and help support the movement at https://NaplesPathways.org/PCTrail.

But now back to our resolutions. With so many people aiming to exercise more and lose weight, find a friend, neighbor, or coworker with the same goals. Enlisting support for encouragement, accountability, and to have someone to walk with or share healthy recipes is a great way to help you both achieve success.

Writing down your goals and keeping them in several places you will see them throughout the day will also make it harder to ignore them. Make good use of technology. Set reminders on your phone to take a walk and call your healthy goals buddy for a check-in; download an app to track your steps or map a biking route. Apps like ShopWell and Lifesum are popular for helping you make healthy food choices that fit with your likes and lifestyle.

Resolutions don’t just have to start in January. It’s not too late to get back on track. You can do it!

Michelle Avola, Executive Director of Naples Pathways Coalition

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