Planning a Fitness Day at the Park
By Tony Wolff, PT
I love exercising at the park. I started on the jungle gym at age 15 in my neighborhood because I wanted to hang out with all the cool kids. Shortly after I graduated from high school, I began walking 3 miles every day around the park while carry two dumbbells. That was quite a few years ago. Today, my life revolves around exercise and I still spend a great deal of time exercising outdoors in the park.
In fact, when it comes to exercising, I’ve always thought that the park was the best place to go when I need a break from a cramped gym. That’s why it comes as no surprise to me that boot camp classes in the park are becoming wildly popular. Much like the time I spent as a teenager in the park, these classes can be quite fun for adults of all ages. Essentially these classes combine compound movements, working multiple muscle groups, and address both aerobic fitness and muscle strength to give you a total body workout.
For me, another one of the great things about exercising at the park is that it is free, and no special equipment is needed. You should also consider that a fitness day at the park takes place outside, and research tells us that people who engage in activity outdoors get greater enjoyment from exercise. Testing also shows that the outside activity results in significantly elevated levels of enthusiasm, pleasure, and self-esteem with lower bouts of fatigue, depression and tension. It is believed that much of these results are linked to our blood cortisol level. This hormone is associated with increased stress and anxiety. But outdoor activity does a better job of bringing it down as compared to indoor activity.
A typical day-at-the-park workout can include repeating cardio (walk or jog 3 minutes) and strength (1minute) intervals. Start with several minutes of warming up (arm circles, trunk twists, leg swings, marching in place) and then try this:
- Push-ups from edge of picnic table
- Step-ups onto picnic table bench
- Pull ups or sustained hang on monkey bars
- Tricep dips from edge of picnic table
- Planks from picnic table
A cool down, similar to what you did for the warm up is a good idea. The routine can always be mixed up as you like and made more or less challenging. Cycling through the exercises can make for a longer routine.