Are you spending too much money on gym memberships, exercise classes, or fitness equipment that you don’t use? Do you want to get outside more? Are you a traveler looking for a way to work out when you’re away from home?
Working out in a park can provide a welcome change in your fitness routine.
The Benefits of Working Out in a Park
Parks are for more than walking your dog and awkward first dates; many parks have everything you need for a good workout:
Most commercial gyms have limited hours of operation, and exercise classes operate on fixed schedules, but most parks are open to the public twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This allows you to exercise on your schedule, not someone else’s.
Parks are free, saving you the high cost of gym memberships, exercise classes, and personal workout equipment. These savings can be spent on healthy foods and supplements to support your fitness goals.
Stay Fit While Traveling
If you’re traveling, parks are easy to find, especially in touristy areas. Around the world, it’s common to find parks with proper exercise equipment, such as pull-up bars, benches, and running paths.
Exercising outside provides a nice change of pace from stuffy gyms, especially if it’s a beautiful sunny day. Studies show that working out in a park may improve mood, citing greater feelings of positivity, engagement, and motivation. Vitamin D production is also boosted when you exercise outdoors on a sunny day.
Focus on Basics
A park gives you the room and basic equipment to focus on foundational movements of fitness, such as compound movements and jogging. Compound movements are exercises that activate the largest muscle groups and provide the greatest fat-burning and muscle-building benefits in a workout. Examples include the bodyweight squat and the pull-up. Jogging is a classic way to promote cardiovascular health, strengthen bones, and improve neuromuscular connections.
Compared to the gym, parks are unlikely to be overcrowded, so you don’t have to worry about feeling intimidated or struggling to find available equipment. Working out in a park doesn’t require barbells or dumbbells; only your body weight, which is always available. You can bring your own exercise bands if you prefer added resistance.
Problems and Solutions for Park Workouts
Not all parks are perfect. Here are some potential problems you might run into and the ways to get around them.
Lack of Resistance Equipment
Weights are not available in most parks, so there’s no added resistance. While it is possible to build muscle with only your own body weight, I can understand the desire to use a dumbbell or barbell. I would recommend using resistance bands as an alternative, which are inexpensive, versatile, and portable.
You Need Weights
If the feel of steel is a must for you, it’s cheaper to buy a few sets of weights to bring to a park or use at home than to pay for a gym membership.
Beautiful weather doesn’t last forever, and when winter rolls around, working out in a park is going to be difficult, if not impossible. During the cold winter months, you can buy a short-term or monthly gym membership, exercise at home, or sign up for a class. For example, if you take a few yoga classes during the winter months, you’ll be able to do yoga in a park on your own when the weather improves. Travelers can use a hotel workout in the comfort of a hotel room.
Poor Quality Equipment
Exposed to the elements on a year-round basis, park equipment may become rusty and worn. You only need two pieces of equipment for working out in a park: a sitting bench and a straight bar. However, if these are beyond repair and dangerous to use, consider looking for a different park. You can also use substitute exercises; for example, use jump squats as a replacement for step-ups.
Depending on the location of the park, safety can be an issue. Always observe your surroundings and look for a different park if you feel unsafe. Stay near higher traffic areas and choose parks that have a security presence. Typically, the safest parks are near police stations and schools. Make sure that you only go during daylight hours.
If you’re traveling, go to parks where there is likely to be a tourist presence close by. Many parks near tourist centers will have security and police offers within or near the park.
Have You Tried Working Out in a Park?
What are some of your favorite exercises for working out in a park? Travelers: Do you have a favorite park in a famous city that you’ve exercised in? Tell me about it in the comments below!