Provide Fitness Options for Everyone
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 23.2 percent of adults ages 18 and up meet Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Inactivity continues to have a dramatic, negative impact on Americans' health, which is why so many communities are looking for new ways to incorporate fitness and wellness activities into their parks and sites. This has led to a rise in outdoor fitness areas, and as these installations continue to grow, manufacturers are coming up with more and better ways to get the entire community active and involved.
Q: We want to offer a way for all members of our community to get active, regardless of their income or age. What should we look for?
A: An outdoor fitness area provides a free workout for just about anyone, from novices to experienced athletes, and from teens to centenarians.
Think about all the ways people in your community are likely to get active. Whether it's groups of equipment sited along a trail or one larger, more central location, you can provide an impressive combination of cardio, strength and flexibility exercises, providing everything from body-weight and adjustable resistance to circuit training, functional fitness and more.
Encourage a full range of activity by providing a variety of equipment, including areas for stretching, machines for strengthening, spaces for fitting in some cardio and more. Don't forget that functional fitness continues to be tremendously popular, and you're likely to get even more visitors to your facility when you incorporate this type of activity too.
Q: We're especially concerned about providing ways for older community members and those with disabilities to get active. What should we know?
A: You're wise to target these members of your community. According to the CDC, obesity rates for adults with disabilities are 58 percent higher than for those without. And for seniors, mobility challenges also make it difficult to stay active.
Provide a diverse range of fitness equipment at your outdoor gym, and be sure to talk to your manufacturer about ADA-accessible equipment that targets a range of muscle groups. That way, those with limited mobility and users who rely on wheelchairs will have ways to stay in shape too. Certain types of exercises are particularly beneficial to those who propel manual wheelchairs, as they target the "reverse" muscles, and in doing so can help prevent common injuries. Older adults will benefit from a range of activities that aim to preserve or even build agility while also focusing on strength, flexibility and balance.
Manufacturers have gained a lot of experience creating outdoor gyms that work for everyone. Talk to them about the best way to offer a range of opportunities to make it possible for everyone to get a complete workout.
Q: We want our outdoor gym to be attractive to everyone. What should we consider?
A: Visibility is important, so that users can easily find and access your outdoor gym. In addition, more visibility means non-exercisers are more likely to see others working out and get motivated to join the fun. Locating your outdoor gym near a playground not only provides visibility, but also makes it easier for parents and caregivers to get active.
Make sure to include parking nearby, with accessible pathways to the fitness area. Shade is also an important consideration on hot days, and you might also consider lighting if you'd like your fitness area to be used after dark.
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Greenfields Outdoor Fitness Inc.