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May: The Month of Parks, Play, and Physical Wellness

I recently learned that May is “National Physical Fitness & Sports Month” which makes a ton of sense with the weather finally becoming consistently nice. May is usually when you can see people riding bikes, kids are out playing youth sports, and the trails slowly filling with hikers that want to get the good miles in before it gets too hot. Naturally our local parks fit in with the idea of being active and healthy, but how can they relate to a month themed about physical fitness and sports? 



When I think of the term “physical fitness” my mind goes to either being in a gym or back to P.E. classes I had from elementary school all the way up to high school. It isn’t a term that really inspires any sort of creativity and feels more like a structured activity, but if you really think about it, recreating in a local park can get you physically active without even thinking about it. The most obvious example is when you look at a play structure for kids in a local park. Every single piece of the structure is meant to get a kid active in a different way. Swings require you to pump your legs to get momentum and move, all the climbing areas make you focus on strength and balance, and you always have to climb stairs to get to the top of the slide.



Being active in a park isn’t just for kids though, and one of the easiest ways to be active in a park is simply walking though it. I’ve been very guilty in the past of working all day at my computer and then heading home to sit on my couch and zone out until bedtime. Surprisingly that doesn’t really contribute to an active lifestyle. I was fortunate enough to have a park near the office I worked at in my last job and that led me to taking walks at lunch, and that little bit of physical activity paid off almost immediately. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking not only improves your cardiovascular fitness, but also can increase your energy levels, strengthen your immune system and reduce stress and tension. Personally I always feel like I have a better day when I get a chance to take a walk in a park.



The hardest thing about getting out and getting active is usually getting started. I know that I’ve had the intention multiple times of getting out and doing something only to come up with an excuse before I start because the idea of exercise isn’t always the most appealing or fun thing. A great way to get around that is to be active by doing something fun like our Discover Your Parks Series or Truckee Meadows Trails Challenge. Being a part of a community all participating in a similar activity is a fun way to get in those fitness moments without the pressure of a gym or expensive fitness class. Hiking on its own might seem daunting, but a guided hike with 30 other people and learning about how you connect to the trail you’re on is a much more relaxed environment to get active.



Our Discover Your Parks series offers several ways to get active, from relaxing activities like yoga in the park and our guided walks, all the way to sports opportunities like flag football. These free programs all promote a healthy active lifestyle while still being fun and working with the ability level of everyone who participates.


So if you’re looking for a fun way to be active this month, go on a walk, take a hike, or if you’re really adventurous, challenge a kid to a race on the monkey bars. I think you’ll enjoy it.


 

About the Author



Matt is the Communications Manager for Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. After serving with TMPF as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2017 he worked to promote AmeriCorps programs throughout Nevada for four years and is excited to be back at the place that started his journey in the nonprofit world. Matt studied Radio Television Production at the University of Montana and brings over a decade of experience to the TMPF communications team. When he isn't working you can find Matt watching baseball, hiking with his family, or being pulled behind a boat.

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5月06日
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Nice article-get moving everyone!

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