With the onset of Coronavirus, or Covid-19, thousands of gyms across the country are now closed. Millions of Americans no longer have the option of maintaining their regular fitness and exercise routines. Health professionals have pointed out, along with washing hands and other hygiene practices, that daily exercise is important in maintaining your health; both physical and mental. Some studies have indicated .
A lot of us have some home exercise equipment or have created exercise routines not requiring such gear. Some of us are perfectly capable of “pounding it out” at home, even with the kids, dogs, TV, and other distractions. Others, myself included, have to get away from the house as we simply can’t focus through all the background noise long enough to work up a good sweat.
The Solution is Outside
In many neighborhoods the local community or park department has already provided a solution; outdoor fitness trails or fitness structures. You may have made occasional use of such amenities in the past, but with gyms closed down the outdoor equivalent becomes an obvious option for your regular workouts.
Weather permitting, the outdoor fitness space provides a safe alternative to the indoor gym. Naturally, during a period such as the current Coronavirus alarm, using hand sanitizer between workout stations is a must, as is maintaining social distancing. Both are far easier to do in the outdoor setting.
Your workout routine will likely be different, as outdoor fitness equipment makes use of “bodyweight training” versus weights. The advantages of bodyweight training have been well explored and accepted, and changing up your routine on occasion is always a good idea. If you embrace bodyweight training for a time, you will be in good company. I know a number of professional athletes who have made the switch and feel they are stronger and faster as a result.
The Gear that Works
Well-designed outdoor equipment will include stations for push-ups, incline sit-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, overhead ladders or rings, parallel bars, dips, balance beams, jump-ups, step-ups, and any number of other features. A variety of work-out stations which can be used for a balanced, whole-body routine is the goal of a well-designed system.
This could be represented in a single setting of equipment, built to take advantage of more limited space, or in a fitness trail concept. The fitness trail allows equipment, featuring two to three fitness stations per location, to be spaced along a walking or running path. This helps maintain heightened cardio between strengthening and stretching exercises. In times such as these, a fitness trail also contributes to easy social distancing.
What About the Cost
Not all communities or park departments have foreseen the need for outdoor exercise equipment. When looking at the cost of such amenities the community should consider not only the current Coronavirus scenario, but keep in mind this will not be the only such event in our lifetimes. In fact, with increased international travel and mobility, similar epidemics may unfortunately become a regular occurrence.
The cost of outfitting a local park space with equipment stations can easily be justified. The expense must be weighed against the cost of citizens suffering both physically and emotionally from a loss of exercise. That scenario may well bring about additional public health costs or dependence on government aid. The expense of installing such public amenities and helping to maintain a healthier population may well be minor in comparison.
The choice of what outdoor fitness equipment to install must be taken keeping a few vital points in mind: 1) durability 2) ease of maintenance 3) vandal resistance and tamper proofing 4) safety and 5) it must be attractive and have a color palette that works for the community. For these reasons, and others, going to an established and well-regarded manufacturer is a must.
It’s often that citizen action begins the discussion on the use of resources and the value of fitness spaces in the community. If you are concerned with the health, safety, and fitness of yourself and your neighbors, this is a good time to approach your local park department, home-owner-association, or town council. Outdoor fitness and recreation, and the direct connection to public health, should be at the top of their agendas.