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BCI Burke Playground

Outdoor Fitness for Adults

As adults, we constantly talk about the benefits of maintaining an active outdoor lifestyle. We know how important it is for our physical health, and for our mental and emotional well-being.

Benefits include:

  • Improved cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility and endurance
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers
  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
  • Increased exposure to sunlight, which helps the body produce Vitamin D (essential for bone health, immune system function, and mood regulation)
  • Social interaction

Why, then, do we fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” camp far too often? We encourage children to participate in team sports, meet friends at the playground and go for bike rides, yet at the same time, we jettison our New Year’s resolutions, leave our own bikes in the garage, and studiously avoid the gym.

The truth is, adults of all ages need physical activity — including unstructured play — as much as children do. And, we need more time outdoors.

May is the perfect month to start exploring the many different ways we can engage in outdoor activities while pursuing our own unique wellness journeys. Not only has May been National Fitness and Sports Month since 1983 (and the first Saturday in May has been National Fitness Day since 2017), summer is around the corner. It’s the perfect time to get outside, and get moving.

According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, and 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. We also should incorporate strength training at least two days a week.

That might sound daunting. But consider this: That’s 20 minutes per day of moderate activity and roughly 10 minutes per day of vigorous activity.

Logging those minutes might be easier than you think. For starters, reimagine your existing daily activities:

  • Park farther from the store or office
  • Replace TV/smartphone time with a 20- to 30-minute walk or bike ride
  • Do yard work
  • Plant and care for a garden
  • Wash your car by hand

What about “play?” This is where the real fun starts. Think about your interests, and get creative:

  • Join an outdoor exercise class; options include yoga, kickboxing, bootcamp and more
  • Explore your local biking or hiking trails
  • Head for the beach to swim, boogie-board or just walk in the sand
  • Learn to paddle a kayak or stand-up paddleboard
  • Sign up for a community 5K run/walk, or an adventurous event like a sprint triathlon or obstacle-course race
  • Find a local park with outdoor fitness equipment or an obstacle course, and create an engaged community of family, friends and neighbors exercising together.

You are limited only by your imagination. Try a few new things, and you just might find that you reconnect with your inner child along the way.