Yesterday you ate way too much candy and, gulp, the real holiday season hasn't even begun. And in just a few days marathoners will be wowing us as they run across the Madison Avenue Bridge and down Fifth Avenue in Harlem. You're thinking a new exercise routine would be a good idea. But you don't want to join an expensive gym or plan some complicated running routine.
Here's an idea: head to St. Nicholas Park. Not only is it one of the most beautiful parks in all of Harlem, it's on a steep hill so it's got tons of steps. Perfect for an excellent outdoor workout that will help you get in shape, burn calories, and enjoy the fall foliage to boot.
Need just a little bit more guidance? Follow the routine of my friend Tim in Central Harlem, who has this to say about running up and down the stairs in St. Nicholas Park: "I try to do 30 to 45 minutes, so I never really count how many times. No trainer, just me. I usually go in the late morning, but I always see people exercising there."
The most direct place to enter is on 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, where you will tackle about 10 series of steps–with paved paths in between–if you choose to go straight up to St. Nicholas Terrace. Then you can run back down again and repeat.
Or, for added interest, follow the loop within the park that takes you up, down and all around. Consult this map from Friends of St. Nicholas Park for a better look at all the stairs and paths (you'll find a lot more steps on either end of the park, near 131st Street and 141st Street, pictured above).
The Friends' website also includes a fascinating page about the park's history: Did you know that it was used as a military campground for the Battle of Harlem Heights during the American Revolution? It's something to think about–and keep you from focusing too much on your own struggle.