Exercising in Central Park - Top Activities to Keep You in Shape

If you're looking to exercise in New York City, Central Park is a big 843-acre playground with a multitude of activities. From running to biking to basketball, Central Park has it all.

For some sports such as running or biking, there are certain rules you need to follow to keep everyone in the park safe. For example, during times that cars are allowed to drive in the park, both bikers and runners/walkers must share the recreation lane. Bikers must stay on the outer lane, while runners/walkers must stay in the inner lane. When traffic is not allowed in the park, bikers must use the drives while runners/walkers use the recreation lane.

The Most Popular Activities in Central Park

  • Running and Walking: There are 58 miles of pathways in Central Park, so there are endless opportunities to explore the park on your own two feet, no matter what the speed. There are three routes on the park drives on which you can run or walk; these loops are 6.1 miles (around the whole park), 5.2 miles (upper loop), and 1.7 miles (lower loop). An extremely popular route is to run around the reservoir, which is 1.58 miles and a soft surface. There are also three bridle paths on which you can run or walk that are between 1.1 and 1.5 miles long.

  • Baseball and Softball: There are 26 baseball and softball fields throughout the park. Eight are on the Great Lawn; 12 are in the North Meadow; and six are at Heckscher Ballfields at 63rd St. To play, your team must obtain a permit from the NYC Department of Parks/Recreation.

  • Biking: Bicycles are some of the best cardio exercise equipment around, and you’ll get a good workout in Central Park with the varying terrains. You can bike on the three drive loops around the park; however, bikers are not allowed on the pathways, so you can only go in designated zones. If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent one at Loeb Central Park Boathouse on the east side at 72nd St. or at several bike shops around the area, or you can also book online.

  • Tennis: Central Park has 26 clay tennis courts and four asphalt courts. They are located at the Tennis Center, located on the west side from 94th to 96th St. The courts are open from April through November.

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    Bouldering: This form of rock climbing, in which climbers forgo a rope and simply climb boulders with a crash pad underneath, is gaining popularity in Central Park. Popular spots for bouldering include Rat Rock (62nd St.), Worthless Boulder (Central Park North) and Cat Rock (64th St.).

  • Basketball: There are two places to play hoops in Central Park. One is at the North Meadow Recreation Center; the other is at the Great Lawn. These courts are first-come, first-served. You can borrow basketballs at the North Meadow site, but you'll have to bring your own at the Great Lawn.

  • Football: There's a short season for football in Central Park. Park-goers are allowed to play from mid-September through mid-November at North Meadow. Don't count on playing tackle football, though; only touch football and flag football are allowed.

  • Volleyball: If you bring your own ball and net, you can play pickup volleyball games year-round in the park on a first-come, first-served basis. There are three volleyball courts in the park. All three are east of Sheep Meadow (one sand, two asphalt).

That's Not All in Terms of Exercise...

In addition, the North Meadow Recreation Center provides many opportunities for exercise. It has 12 handball courts available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can also borrow field day kits which have a variety of balls, bats, Frisbees and jump ropes. It is located mid-park at 97th St.

There are also opportunities for fishing, cross-country skiing, ice skating and so much more. The possibilities are really endless, so bring along whatever sports equipment you have and come enjoy all that the park has to offer.


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