After being cooped up inside, millions of people are eager to rid themselves of the stress and depression by enjoying outdoor activities again. With that said, it’s also fair to say an equal number of folks are anxious to shed some of that quarantine weight. Although many have never forsaken their walking routine, there’s another great option for outdoor exercising: fitness parks.
These free public spaces are a perfect solution to obtaining a vigorous total body workout while breathing fresh air and soaking up doses of vitamin D. The average fitness park is equipped with enough aerobic and muscle/strength stations to rival any gym. The best parks will have anywhere from 5 to 20 pieces of equipment including weight-bearing exercise stations for the lower body and upper body setups (like benches) for abdominal pulling and push-ups.
A few words of advice. Unless you already know, do not assume there is a fountain on the premises. So, bring your own bottles of water in order to stay hydrated. You might want to pack your gym bag with a pair of cycling gloves as a cushiony buffer for gripping hard metal, a mat in case you want to get in some yoga stretches, and some sanitizing wipes. You never know where bird poop has landed.
With at least 36 fitness parks throughout the United States and due to their huge success, the nation’s largest non-profit organization, AARP, is committed to funding the creation of more parks. Additionally, thanks to a grant provided by AARP, qualified fitness professionals will be paid over the next three years to instruct workout classes at various parks. According to AARP’s Vice President of Community Engagement, the goal is to strengthen neighborhood communities and elevate the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Playgrounds are not just for kids anymore. Adults, young and old, can also frolic around and reap the maximum benefits fitness parks have to offer. Equipment/stations commonly found in parks include balance planks, cardio walkers, chin-ups, captain’s chairs, recumbent bikes, and more. While urbanization of communities may be on the rise, there are quite a few subdivisions throughout the country that also have walking trails and fitness equipment on the grounds to help keep that heart pumping.
Aside from providing well-rounded workout opportunities, fitness parks are proven social outlets that families and neighbors can enjoy together and where individuals have a chance to meet and make new friends. For those interested in building their own community fitness parks, creating pride in the neighborhood, and inspiring habits of maintaining healthy well-being, Playcore lists a wealth of information on their website about outdoor recreation including how to start a fitness park. One other incentive for fitness park owners is that they likely qualify for additional grant funding related to obesity prevention and/or reduction.
So, what are you waiting for? Be a kid again and go have some healthy fun in the park!