Working out in a gym is fine, but nothing beats an outdoor workout. Human beings were probably never meant to spend so much time indoors, and outdoor exercise provides the benefits of fresh air, sunlight, and a new environment when those gym workouts begin to feel stale. Here are 5 different workouts that can be done at any age, designed to firm and shape muscle while simultaneously shrinking fat cells. These workouts can be done anywhere, but I encourage you to try them at an exercise park or outdoor gym. It’s more fun than you might imagine!
These workouts are for both men and women and can be modified to match a person’s fitness level or unique circumstances. See the videos lower with this article for specific ideas on how to use an exercise park – and how to get motivated for using any outdoor gym for the first time.
Is It Weird to Workout Outside If You’re Older?
It’s perfectly natural to workout outdoors – and more people over 50 do it than you probably think.
Of course, people have been exercising outdoors since the beginning of human history, but more recently – since the pandemic of 2020 especially – older adults have been reminded of the health benefits of fresh air and sunlight, and outdoor exercise has experienced a sort of renaissance.
Call it whatever you want – exercise park, outdoor gym, fitness trail, parcourse, fitness court, or simply “playground for grown-ups” – the point is that fresh-air workouts seem to be making a big comeback.
Is it weird to workout outside? Perhaps to an aggressive conformist, someone using an outdoor gym might seem weird – but conformists think everything is weird if they’re not accustomed to seeing it.
Ultimately, the only person responsible for your own emotional joy and physical health is you, so be careful about putting too much stock in what other people think, especially after the age of 50. Life is short enough, and you don’t want to waste valuable time worrying about others’ judgment.
Why Are Outdoor Gyms Important After Age 50?
The exercise park is important because it helps mature citizens improve emotional and physical health.
Is it better to exercise outside or at an outdoor gym? Research suggests (see scientific sources below this article) outdoor gyms are better:
- fresh air is often better for lung tissue than indoor air
- many people have dangerously low levels of Vitamin D, which can be safely aided by moderate exposure to sunlight.
- being active outside has greater health benefits than being active inside
- improves self-esteem
- improves energy
- improves mood
- more people will return to an outdoor gym than an indoor gym
- outdoor gyms help people to form intergenerational social ties with their neighbors.
There have also been compelling research studies that suggest quantifiable benefits of being barefoot outdoors.
Exercise parks are trending, and newly built ones are turning up in neighborhoods around the world.
What Is an Exercise Park?
An exercise park is basically a gym built outside in a public area, often with rubberized impact-absorbing tracks and all-weather exercise machines – kind of like a playground for adults.
Originally, an outdoor gym was often just a pair of adult pull-up bars installed in a park – separate from the children’s playground equipment.
Later, parcourses became popular.
A parcourse is a park fitness trail that charts its path outdoors – with stations of exercise equipment – or “obstacles” – along the way.
Though a parcourse was seen as a potentially enjoyable way to do something healthy, they weren’t often used. Taxpayers said they wanted them to improve their health, but they didn’t often actually use them.
However, after fitness became commoditized and many globo-gym chains started selling memberships for as little as $10 a month, these gyms became increasingly crowded.
Think You Don’t Have a Free Outdoor Gym Nearby? Think Again
The exercise park – sometimes called a Fitness Court – can occasionally be quite elaborate and high-concept.
Ask a few locals if they know of an exercise park in your area.
Many towns have an outdoor gym with either a parcourse or exercise stations (or, at the very least, some pull-up bars).
Most people don’t realize they have an exercise park nearby (they’re not always findable online). You have to ask around.
I’ve seen people insist that there is no fitness park in their town, even though I happen to know of several outdoor gyms in their immediate area.
Don’t just assume you don’t have access to a nearby exercise park – you have to really research it.
Exercise Park Workout Examples for Adults Over 50
Exercise Park Workout 1
This first workout has 13 exercises. If your outdoor gym doesn’t have this exact equipment, then choose substitute exercises that target similar muscle groups.
You can do all 13 exercises in a row, take a break, and then start from the beginning again. Do the complete circuit 2 times (beginners), 3 times (intermediate), or 4 times (advanced).
As an alternative, you can do the bodybuilding style of training, which is simply to do 3 sets of 12 reps, with a 2-minute rest in between each set, before moving on to the next new exercise.
Outdoor Gym Workout 2
This parcourse workout has 13 stations. The exercises are classics, so you should be able to make it work even if your parcourse is slightly different than the one in the video.
It’s tempting to hold your breath while doing a strenuous activity, but do remember to breathe throughout each movement. Stay hydrated, and wear sunscreen or a hat.
Exercise Park Workout 3
Not only can an outdoor workout be as good as a gym workout – it can be better!
In the below 12 exercises, I’ve rearranged the sequence of muscle groups to keep things interesting. If you have an open-ended resistance band and a jump rope, bring them along with you to the park.
It’s always a good idea when you exercise at an outdoor location to bring a towel and water bottle, too. I keep a spray bottle of sunscreen in my car in case I need a sunscreen touch-up about halfway through the workout.
Outdoor Gym Workout 4
Exercise Park Workout 5
It’s important to understand that when you combine your workouts with an anti-inflammatory diet, the results are exponential.
An anti-inflammatory diet in conjunction with consistent exercise will narrow your waistline and strengthen your muscles.
After age 50, your body starts to lose muscle mass and strength. This is normal but it also means that you have to work harder to stay fit.
You know that getting stronger is important for staying healthy after the age of 50, as well as looking good – but you don’t want to do the same old routine at the gym or jog on a treadmill every day.
Silver and Strong: the Complete Guide to Getting Fit After 50 is a step-by-step digital coursebook that will show you how to get in shape after the age of fifty by creating muscle with weight training workouts, eating anti-inflammatory foods that help protect your joints and organs from damage, and following an advanced level fitness program that includes HIIT cardio circuits for rapid fat loss.
Fresh-air fitness has made a comeback. The above videos show you five complete examples of how you can use an exercise park or outdoor gym at any age. Who do you know who would find this article useful or motivating? I encourage you to forward it to them!
Additional Resources about the Exercise Park Concept:
Hazards of Indoor Air – https://news.wsu.edu/press-release/2019/06/06/researchers-uncover-indoor-pollution-hazards/
Joys of Being Barefoot: Research on Physical Benefits of Grounding – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/
Subtle Changes in Policy Incentivize Neighbors to Exercise Outdoors – Sharing.Lab – https://medium.com/we-research-and-expriment-with-how-the-sharing/the-rise-of-outdoor-gyms-nudging-people-to-be-more-active-a1b3babe97f8
Dangers of Low Vitamin D – https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-d/
Green Exercise Environment Benefits All – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/#:~:text=To%20summarise%2C%20outdoor%20natural%20environments,and%20self%2Desteem%20and%20perceived
2 Hours a Week in Nature Increases Wellbeing – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3