Let’s face it; they aren’t just a fad, Outdoor Adult Fitness Parks are a fast-growing trend that provide a great way to get in a workout. Adult exercise equipment installed in the great outdoors is usually free to use, promotes fresh air and Vitamin D, generating sunshine, and doesn’t have the “intimidation factor” that indoor gyms and fitness clubs can have for exercise beginners.
Research shows that exercising outdoors has many benefits that may not be realized in an indoor environment. People with greater access to green environments exhibit better well-being and functioning scores in social, physical, and psychological domains.1 In addition, there is research2 showing that outdoor exercise:
- Can prevent certain diseases
- Improves adherence rates to exercise
- Provides greater feelings of revitalization and positive enjoyment
- Decreases tension, confusion, anger, and depression
- Increases energy
- Helps seniors reach higher levels of physical activity
So how can we get more people out and exercising? One way is to let them know where to go. Communities are adding outdoor adult fitness parks as a way to encourage adults to get healthy, playful exercise, and are excited at the responses from the community. To help let people know where to go to find a similar facility, PlayCore offers a map of National Demonstration Site Adult Fitness Parks, https://www.playcore.com/nds/map?type=fitness. Interested users can also check their local parks to see where a fitness park may be located.
Joint-use fitness areas, those that are located near a playground, may be a great way to get parents more active while at the playground. Rather than just heading to a bench and sitting while children play, these clusters of fitness equipment provide parents and caregivers with a way to keep an eye on the kids while setting a good example for them through their own exercise.
Trails are also a great infrastructure to build opportunities for enhanced exercise. At Warner Park in Chattanooga TN, a series of adult fitness stations were added along a trail at a park where a playground, zoo, ball field complex, and splash park were already drawing family traffic. One of the parents interviewed at the site noted, “We come here as a family – the kids go to the zoo or the water park, then we walk the fitness trail – my husband and I use the equipment while our kids play in the grassy areas. It's great fun for all and we leave feeling like we had a great family day.”
So whatever your fitness level or goals may be, make it a point this month to try getting outside to exercise, exchange a 30-minute TV program with a walk in your neighborhood, find an outdoor fitness park (or contact us to help your community add one) and go get a workout in, find likeminded people in your neighborhood, family, or at your place of employment and set some time to exercise as a team. Take your kids out to enjoy exercise together, thereby planting the seeds for future generations of healthy people. There’s no denying the research, fitness and play are good at any age!
1 Kuo, F.E., Parks and other green environments: ‘Essential components of a healthy human habitat’. Australasian Parks and Leisure, 2011. 14(1): p. 10.
2 PlayCore, Outdoor Adult Fitness Parks, Best Practices for Promoting Community Health by Increasing Physical Activity. PlayCore 2013 p15-16