Healthy Aging

Green Gym Day: Your Park Is Your Health Club


If you’re like many of us, you have a list of reasons for avoiding the gym: It’s sweaty; it’s boring; it’s packed with toned young bodies; and it’s expensive.

All the more reason to head out to your nearest park for some exercise this weekend.

Green Gym Day, a new annual event happening this year on June 9, was created to raise awareness of city green spaces as the perfect setting for physical activity that’s enjoyable rather than something to cross off your to-do list. The idea is simple: Get out there and breathe some fresh air while you move.

This year, New Yorkers will find a day of special events to participate in (see below) and activities are planned for other US cities, as well as in the UK and Australia – but Nancy Bruning, the engine behind Green Gym Day and a longtime New Yorker who leads hour-long park fitness classes (click here for info), says this is really “a do-it-yourself kind of day.”

Bruning insists that you don’t need a trainer to turn a green space into your own gym. Take a walk; bring some friends and play a gentle game of catch or frisbee; find a spot to practice yoga; do dips and stretches on a park bench. It’s all good. To get started, download Bruning’s guide by clicking here.

You can register your activities on the Green Gym Day website by clicking here and find Green Gym Day on  Twitter (@GreenGymDay) and Facebook, where you can offer suggestions, round up buddies and share your photos and video clips. Green Gym Day will be making a video collage from uploaded images and posting it online.


Green Gym Day in NYC and beyond


In Manhattan, Fort Tryon Park will host free activities from 9am to 4pm. To get there, take the A train to 190th Street and you’ll exit right at Margaret Corbin Circle, the entrance to the park. (Click here for more event and location info.) The rundown includes:

  • 9:00    Nancercize (a fitness circuit through the park), Margaret Corbin Circle
  • 10:00  Yoga class (bring a mat or towel), Abby’s Lawn
  • 11:15  Tai Chi, Linden Terrace
  • 12:30  Zombie Tag, Cloister Lawn
  • 11:00-2:00  Ping pong (with free paddles and balls), Subway Terrace
  • 2:00  Bring your own picnic, anywhere in the park
  • 3:00  Flamenco dance demo and lesson, Linden Terrace


Elsewhere in the city:

  • If you’re an early riser, you can join an 8am Tai Chi session at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Riverside Park (89th Street). Click here for info.
  • Morning people can also take an 8am heart-healthy beach walk at Rockaway Beach in Queens (Beach 106th Street & Broadwalk). Click here for info.
  • Brad Taylor will lead a Historic Harlem Parks Hike from the southern end of Morningside Park to the northern end of St. Nicholas Park. (Meet at 10:30am on the northwest corner of Manhattan Avenue and 110th Street. Call 212-937-3883 for info.) Click here for info.

Green Gym Day is a national event: Check your local park’s website for activities to join or round up some friends and organize your own.

Your park is a “health club” in more ways than one. Just being out in nature is therapeutic. Studies have shown that time spent outdoors in a leafy setting helps improve brain function, promotes a feeling of well-being and gives your immune system an extra boost. We could all use that!

Click here to visit the Green Gym Day website

Photo: (c) 2008 Holtz Communications, Inc


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