This is the fifth post in a nine-part series on the benefits of Outdoor Fitness Parks. It is based on the research and information found in Outdoor Adult Fitness Parks™: Best Practices for Promoting Community Health by Increasing Physical Activity, published by PlayCore. Request a copy of the complete guidebook to help you plan the perfect fitness park.
The key to providing the maximum health benefits in an outdoor fitness park is offering space and equipment for people to experience a well-rounded exercise program (WREP). A WREP contains a variety of elements designed to provide specific results for overall health. When you include outdoor fitness equipment that offer the five elements of a well-rounded workout, your outdoor fitness park contributes to adult health and wellness.
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is foundational to most fitness training programs. Aerobic exercise includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases heart rate. Engaging in aerobic activity engages the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, improving efficiency of each.
According to the American Heart Association, aerobic/cardiovascular exercise can help lower blood pressure, increase the good (HDU) cholesterol in your blood, and lower bad (LDU) cholesterol. It can also help regulate weight and blood sugar, reduce asthma symptoms, improve sleep quality, strengthen the immune system. and reduce the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
Another key element of a well-rounded fitness program is muscular fitness. This is also known as strength or resistance training, and it helps increase bone strength, and maintain muscle mass during a weight-loss program. This type of exercise increases overall strength and helps people engage in daily functional activities like lifting heavy objects or climbing stairs.
Maintaining and increasing muscle strength can help prevent falls, prevent injury, and enhances your mood. As we age, we naturally lose some muscle mass. Age-related muscle loss is associated with bone loss, lower metabolism, fat gain, and heart diseas. Studies show muscle loss can be slowed or reversed through resistance and strength training. Additional benefits include higher metabolic rate, improved cognition, reduced body fat, and lower cholesterol.
While most people think about “six pack abs” when they hear the word “core,” there’s a lot more to the core muscle group. It includes the muscles in your abdomen lower back and pelvis. A strong and healthy core helps to protect your back and connects your upper and lower body movements.
Core strength is a key element of a well-rounded fitness training program. Core exercises lead to better overall balance and stability, and better overall conditioning as almost all movement involves the core. In terms of providing better functional fitness, core exercises make it easier to do many things, like bending down to tie your shoes, rake the lawn, or reach to a high shelf to pick up an object.
Balance exercises are too often left out of a workout program, but they are an essential element in maintaining overall health and wellness. By training to develop greater balance, people can realize improvements in coordination, athletic skill, and posture. Studies suggest improved balance may contribute to fewer injuries and greater stability as we age.
Balance, or maintaining control of a moving center of mass over a changing base of support, is extremely relevant to many of life's daily activities. Optimal balance is achieved when multiple sensory systems provide information about the body's position as it moves. Balance improves coordination and the ability to react to sudden changes in direction.
Balance training is an effective way to strengthen and tone your oblique muscles, as well as the muscles of the hips, thighs, and lower back.
Flexibility is an important part of physical fitness. Stretching exercises are effective in increasing flexibility, and thereby can allow people to more easily do activities that require greater range of movement. Stretching also improves the motion of the joints and promotes better posture. Regular stretching can even help relieve stress.
Improved flexibility produces a wide range of physical benefits and can have a positive effect on your overall well-being. It helps correct muscle imbalances, which can reduce your chance of getting injured during physical activity. It can also help reduce aches and pains, improve posture and balance, increase strength and physical performance, and contribute to a positive state of mind.
Bringing it all Together
By combining outdoor fitness equipment that provides all five essential elements of a well-rounded workout, you can create a fitness experience that maximizes health and wellness benefits for all adults. To learn more, request a copy of our Outdoor Fitness Guide, or contact the GameTime outdoor fitness expert in your neighborhood.