Spring is a great time of year to be exercising outdoors. The weather is warming up but it's not too hot yet.
And thanks to Lake Macquarie City Council and Newcastle City Council there are a range of outdoor fitness options to utilise.
These include stations along the Fernleigh Track at Adamstown and ones at Lambton, Warabrook, Speers Point, Pasterfield Sports Complex in Cameron Park, Warners Bay, Stockton and Wangi Wangi.
Both councils have partnered with University of Newcastle to deliver a new, nationally funded trial that might help you or someone you know to get moving.
Researchers are recruiting for the trial which blends smartphone technology with park-based fitness facilities to encourage community members to exercise outdoors.
The study, called ecofit, involves aerobic and resistance (weight-bearing) training for a full-body workout that is fast, fun and free. It is for anyone aged 18 to 80 who is not meeting physical activity guidelines.
A purpose-built app will guide participants through correct use of outdoor gym equipment located in seven public parks and trails across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. As the study progresses, additional parks will be added to the smartphone app.
GPS tracking enables the app to know which exercise station is being used, and when, along any of the three-kilometre circuits or trails.
Participants must be willing to complete at least two self-guided sessions per week during the 12-week program, taking an estimated 30 minutes each. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts, depending upon fitness level and prior exercise experience.
Professor Ron Plotnikoff, Director of the UON's Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition and co-leader of the HMRI Cardiovascular Research Program, says that ecofit is designed more for the average person.
"Health guidelines recommend adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate exercise each week, including at least two days of resistance training," Professor Plotnikoff said.
"But a lot of people are deterred by the cost of gym memberships, concerned about injury, or just feel intimidated and embarrassed walking into a gym.
"Outdoor activity, however, has lots of advantages, including being free and highly social. Studies also show that it improves mental health and mood, perhaps even more than indoor exercise sessions."
The study will assess participants' physical activity levels, weight, aerobic and muscular fitness, and mental health at the start of the study and again at three and nine months.
Those randomised to the study's control group will receive the app at the nine-month stage.
Groups of up to four people can enrol, or it can be done individually with access to a closed Facebook group for social support. Numbers will be capped at around 300 participants.
To enrol or to find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Fitness Events
Variety Spin4Kids Charity Bike Ride, The Forum, September 13: Form a team or go solo for six hours to raise funds for kids in the region who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs.
Newcastle International Half Marathon, Newcastle Foreshore, October 6: It is a new event on the calendar for Newcastle and will also feature a 5km option. The 21.1km course is from Nobbys to Merewether and back, taking in King Edward Park.
Fernleigh 15, Fernleigh Track, October 20: A 15-kilometre running or walking event which is staged along the Fernleigh Track from Adamstown to Belmont.
Spring Sessions Week #2
You do not need too much equipment to get a good outdoors workout.
Try this 30-minute session. Adjust to suit your level of fitness. Each set is 10 minutes continuous. Go for good form and slower repetitions. Stop when form is compromised.
Set 1: 10 squats, 20 star jumps, 20 walking or stationary lunges, 100-200 metre walk/run.
Set 2: 10 pull-ups, 20 step-ups, 10 push-ups (make it easier by using a bar), 100-200m walk/run.
Set 3: 20 ab rotation (touching hands to ground on either side of your body), 10 glute bridge, 10 opposing arm and leg extension.
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