Call it whatever you want – fitness 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.
Here are 5 different workouts that you can try at your local fitness park.
Different Types of Fitness Parks
Fitness parks are trending, and newly built ones are turning up in neighborhoods around the world.
A fitness 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, a fitness park 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.
Research has established that:
- being active outside has greater health benefits than being active inside
- improves self-esteem
- improves energy
- improves mood
- people are more likely to repeat an outdoor activity than an indoor one
- outdoor gyms help people to form intergenerational social ties with their neighbors.
Think You Don’t Have a Fitness Park Nearby? Think Again
Many communities are investing in fitness parks to increase property values of the surrounding residential area and to add life-quality cachet.
These parks – sometimes called Fitness Courts – can occassionally be quite elaborate and high-concept.
Ask a few locals if they know of a fitness park in your area.
Many towns have a fitness park with either a parcourse or exercise stations (or, at the very least, some pull-up bars).
Most people don’t realize they have a fitness park nearby (they’re not always findable online). You have to ask around.
I’ve seen people insist that there are no fitness parks in their town, even though I happen to know of several fitness parks in their immediate area. Don’t just assume you don’t have access to a nearby fitness park – you have to really research it.
Fitness Park Workout Examples and Exercise Ideas
Use the following five workouts as inspiration to create your own workout. Choose the exercises that intrigue you the most.
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.
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.
Not only can an outdoor workout be as good as a gym workout – it can be better!
In the above 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 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.
Circuit-training after age 50 can be done safely and garner very positive results. I’m 55 years old, and my outdoor workouts are usually my favorite of the week.
These 12 exercise ideas in the video above are suitable for mature athletes. The movements can be modified to accommodate any age, gender, or fitness level.
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.
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Sources and Recommended Reading about the Fitness Park Concept:
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
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
New Wave of Health Care Providers Prescribe Time in Parks to Improve Health – https://nationalfitnesscampaign.com/news/get-your-prescription-filled-at-the-park
2 Hours a Week in Nature Increases Wellbeing – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3