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Fitness Articles  ›  Focused Fitness

Your Local Park: An Exercise Treasure Chest

Unleash the Magic

-- By Christopher Stormann, Ph.D.
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If you haven’t been to a park lately, you should make plans for this weekend. It’s probably closer than you think and has more to offer than you could imagine, your very own exercise treasure chest.

Parks come in all different sizes. From small local parks tucked between crowded streets and houses, to massive national parks containing the great wonders of the world, and everything in between. Whichever one you choose, there are going to be opportunities for exercise.

What can you do to get exercise at the park?

Exercise is really what you make of it. You can get more out of your exercise by taking along a friend or two. With another person or group, you can throw a Frisbee or start a pick-up game of full court, run ‘n’ gun basketball. If Frisbee tossing is too leisurely and sprinting up and down the court sounds like a bit much, there are plenty of options in between. Softball is a good example. Take a glove and don’t worry about fielding your own team. Most folks would love to have an extra player or two. Parks tend to be a low-stress environment, so you can be at any skill level and fit in just fine.

There are plenty of other team-oriented types of exercises you can do at the park. It is pretty common for the bigger parks to have soccer fields, baseball fields, Frisbee golf, basketball courts, and even tennis courts. Some parks even have fitness trails with stations set up along the way to work different muscle groups. Think of an adult jungle gym and you’ve got the right idea.

Exercise in the park is a great time for solitude and reflection as well. A trip to the park is a perfect opportunity to take a few moments for numero uno. (That’s you!) Many a problem has been solved by taking a walk in the park. Lush landscapes have a way of making things easier on a person. Indeed, whoever came up with the colloquial comment, "that’s just a walk in the park," must have known what they were talking about!

If the park is remote, there is a good chance that it has a sizeable hiking trail. These paths bring you closer to nature by putting you in the woods and making exercise all the more enjoyable and scenic. For a real challenge, step up the pace and take a jog through the wooded trails. If the trail is a little flatter and paved, you might want to try your hand at roller blading. Roller blading is a great lower body workout that hits your core more than you might imagine. Don’t forget to wear some protection like a helmet and kneepads while roller blading.
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About The Author

Chris Stormann Chris Stormann
Chris has a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences.

Member Comments

  • Thanks for sharing. - 12/14/2013 5:27:40 AM
  • We LOVE to go to the state and national parks around here. And we go to some of the local ones too. - 12/4/2013 8:35:34 AM
  • I love to workout in the park with hubby. Great article. - 9/25/2013 8:36:13 AM
  • Majority of my workouts are now at the park....great article! - 6/11/2012 2:38:12 PM
  • Green spaces! Essential to the good llife.
    I wish there were more par courses available. - 5/5/2012 10:31:46 AM
  • My nearby park is the only public place I feel comfortable doing my boot camp workouts. Lots of other people are running, stretching and doing their workouts,so I don't feel self-conscious about doing my burpees and mountain climbers. Plus, living in Venice, I've got a great view! - 9/12/2011 12:00:36 PM
  • I can't believe there was no mention of how playground equipment can be used to get a phenomenal workout. There are a million places to do pull-ups, incline/decline push-ups, inverted rows. I use the slides for my ab work, the park benches for step-up movements & bulgarian split squats. I make up my own little obstacle course and work out while my kids are playing. And the playground mulch itself creates a nicely-challengin
    g unstable surface to help engage your core more with every move! I get some of my best workouts at the playground! - 9/12/2011 9:50:01 AM
  • VLRLWS
    I live less than a quarter of a mile from one of the entrances to Mammoth Cave National Park. The trails there are awesome for walking, biking, and even horseback riding! I'm really blessed to have such a resource so close to home! - 9/11/2011 4:27:46 PM
  • NOSTOPPINMENOW
    I love, love, love our park system! I think it's one of the best there is! There are paved trails that connect city to city, along with many hiking paths, horse riding paths, some of the paths have different fitness stations, and my very favorite is a section close to where I live that has a set of 136 stairs built into a cliff that you climb and then leads into different paths for running, walking, etc...But there is sooooo much more, fishing, picnicing, swimming...again the list goes on and on! - 9/11/2011 2:19:40 PM
  • My local park is 15 miles away from my house and full of roaming dogs -- no leash laws here. Not a nice place to be. - 9/11/2011 10:55:51 AM
  • We have 5 forest preserves near by, and get to each of them frequently. Love the hiking trails, and being able to bring our dog! Great free fitness places! - 4/10/2011 4:33:00 PM
  • At my local park, a complete outer loop is 1 mile, so easy to know how many miles you have walked which is great since I have to train for a half marathon in May. As long as they have the snow cleared, I go even when it is 15 degrees. I have done a 5K and 10K so far as part of the training. I have a 15K Apr. 9th. I really enjoy walking in the state parks. I have also joined a hiking club too so am more motivated to get out and move and I have made great friends too. - 3/10/2011 7:46:39 PM
  • Well, I am going to the ULTIMATE park in only 72 days....DISNEYLAN
    D! You want exercise? Three days of power walking, going on rides, eating great foods, dancing for joy down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.... now THAT'S a Walk in the Park....in Walt Disney's footsteps no less! Do you have any idea how far it is from ToonTown to California Screamin? I don't....I'm taking my pedometer, so I can find out!!! The one park we have here in this tiny rural town is where the druggies hang out....not much magic there. I'm not comfortable in the company of tweakers. - 3/10/2011 9:31:41 AM
  • Those of us in snow country don't have access to parks yet, that's for sure, but Spark people also live in FL, TX, NM, etc., where the weather is nice. (I vaguely remember warmish weather with no snow.. LOL.)

    One of my favorite places to walk in good weather -- no baseball, basketball, or tossing a frisbee there -- is the local cemetery. It's pretty. It's quiet (duhh). It's historical (I enjoy looking and reading old grave markers). It's safe because there is little if any traffic. The paths and roadway are fairly level so no tripping over stuff found on a usual hiking trail (much appreciated on a day when my knees are hurtin'). My town's cemetery even has a few hills which ramp up my walking. - 3/10/2011 9:31:22 AM
  • There's still plenty of snow on the ground here in Minnesota, but my mom and I will be utilizing Como Park this evening with a power walk around the lake! It's great to have groomed trails and several acres of land in the middle of the city where you can walk and get your dose of nature. There are deer in the park, not to mention the smaller creatures - rabbits, fox, squirrells, mice, voles, ducks (in the spring and summer), and all sorts of migrating birds!
    - 3/10/2011 9:18:24 AM
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