The alarm goes off at 5 a.m., you grab your workout gear, and quickly head out the door. Should you hit the indoor gym for a round of stretching, pressing and curling or head to the great outdoors at Usery Mountain Regional Park for a quick run on the Merkle Trail? Why not hit one location and do both?
In 2015, the park installed new outdoor fitness equipment near the Merkle Trailhead. Now, park visitors can exercise under a shaded structure while enjoying the scenic backdrop of the park or enjoy a hike or run along their favorite trail. Installation of the new outdoor fitness center is yet another way the department can help promote wellness while connecting people with nature.
The new outdoor fitness station includes an adjustable:
- ab toner to strengthen abs and the lower back
- leg press which helps to develop abs, glutes and leg muscles
- squat machine to strengthen glutes and leg muscles
- triceps press which helps to strengthen trapezius, triceps, biceps, chest and shoulders
- chest press which helps develop shoulders, chest and triceps
- arm curl to help develop biceps and forearms
- hip twist to strengthen core muscles
- leg extension and curl machine to develop glutes and leg muscles
In 2011, a survey published in the US National Library of Medicine comparing the benefits of participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments versus indoors revealed that natural environments left individuals with a greater feeling of revitalization and positive engagement. Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity again at a later date.
With more than 170,000 people visiting the park annually, the department foresees the fitness equipment being used daily by regular and seasonal visitors alike. The park has selected a good mixture of equipment that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages and fitness levels. Being outdoors is invigorating, and the department believes the new fitness equipment will motivate visitors to bump up their exercise routines.
In addition to the fitness equipment, the area has approximately 2,400 sq. ft. of shade for visitor comfort, and to keep the equipment from residing in direct sunlight.