Parks, playgrounds offer fresh air alternatives to gym workouts

Mon Aug 18, 2014 5:02am EDT
 
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From park bench pushups and monkey bar lifts to open air runs, fitness experts say the workout possibilities of playgrounds and parks are worth the consideration of even the most diehard gym users.

During the warm, waning summer days, fresh air workouts offer a wealth of new ways to boost the mood, channel the inner child and even burn extra calories.

Chris Freytag, a personal trainer and health coach with the American Council on Exercise, loves the gym but lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a city notorious for brutal winters.

“I’m a big believer in change of venue, of getting away from the same treadmill, the same spot. And there’s something about fresh air and moving in space,” said Freytag, who leads boot camp and circuit classes in parks and parking lots during the summer months.

The changing terrain can also inspire the solitary exerciser to mix it up.

“I’m all about hills: every time you see a hill or steps or stairs, lunge at it,” said Freytag. “Step up and down on curbs and park benches.”

A child’s playground offers core-strengthening possibilities from deep plank pushups, with feet placed on swings, to training with resistance bands slung around poles, to monkey bar pull-ups, she explained.

Research suggest the outdoor boost can be mental as well as physical. In a 2014 study on indoor versus outdoor activity published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being researchers analyzed national survey data from Finland.   Continued...