How to Lose Weight by Using Central Park as Your Gym
Why pay for a pricey gym when you have a free 843-acre one down the street? Manhattanites looking to lose weight can forgo the exercise bikes and elliptical machines and instead use Central Park as one big cardio and weight room.
Central Park has 58 miles of pathways for runners and walkers and three different loops around the drives for bikers. In addition, there are many opportunities for baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and much more - enough activities to keep anyone active and on their exercise plan.
5 Central Park Activities to Lose Weight
Let's take a look at some of the most popular activities within Central Park:
Running/Walking: You can run or walk on three different routes on the park drives. There's the upper loop which is 5.2 miles, the lower loop which is 1.7 miles and the full loop which is 6.1 miles. You can also run around the reservoir which is a soft surface and 1.58 miles, a perfectly manageable walk or run. That’s not to mention the many, many more miles of pathways that you can explore.
Biking: Central Park has a wide variety of terrains to challenge both the novice and the most advanced biker. You can only bike on the drives (or the recreation lanes when traffic is allowed through the park). Either bring your own bike or rent one. You can get bikes at Loeb Central Park Boathouse on the east side at 72nd St., or you can book online.
Baseball/Softball: There are 26 baseball and softball fields in Central Park, but you need to be on a team and get a permit to play. Eight fields are on the Great Lawn; 12 are in the North Meadow; and six are at Heckscher Ballfields at 63rd St.
Tennis: Tennis is great for getting in shape, and Central Park has plenty of courts. There are 26 clay tennis courts and four asphalt courts at the Tennis Center, located on the west side from 94th to 96th St. The courts are open from April through November.
Basketball: You can play hoops either at the North Meadow Recreation Center or at the Great Lawn. You can borrow basketballs at the North Meadow site, but you must bring your own at the Great Lawn. These courts are first-come, first-served.
Additional Programs to Lose Weight
There are also several special programs for those looking to shed pounds. Stroller Strides, a national franchise, has a Central Park program. People who work out with Stroller Strides walk their kids in a stroller and stop at special points to do exercises, sometimes using small weights or bands to help. The group meets at 72nd St.
Finally, the Central Park Conservancy has a Central Park Circuit fitness program that has a series of fitness classes, each in a different location in the park. This encourages people to use new landscapes and forms of fitness in their workouts.
Make Sure You Stick to Your Diet
Of course, to lose weight, an exercise program works best when you are using it in conjunction with a diet suited to your nutritional needs and eating habits. For example, many people find that the Atkins diet plan works best for them, while others choose center-based programs or just do it on their own, aiming to eat more vegetables and cutting out high-calorie snacks and desserts.
With the right diet program and exercise regimen in place, you should be able to meet your weight loss goals. And by using Central Park as a backdrop for your workout program, you'll not only get in shape, but enjoy doing it too, helping you to make exercise a lifelong commitment.
— by Kathryn Sucich
Kathryn Sucich is a freelance writer. Before beginning an exercise program or starting the Atkins diet or other nutritional program, she urges you to talk to your doctor to make sure it's right for you.