Healthy Habit #11: Par Courses

par courseIf you’re one of those people who thrives on being outdoors while you’re exercising, but you live in an urban or suburban area, par courses (which go by other names as well) may be right up your alley.

These are basically little calisthenics-type exercise stations strung together by paved, dirt or gravel trails and follow a prescribed sequence. You can find them in public parks, school grounds and sometimes laced around business parks. They’re a very cool idea but some people don’t know quite what to do with them. Here are a few tips to get a good (but safe) workout at a par course:

1. Jog about half your normal running pace. The exercise stations will spike your heart rate and you need to pace yourself to allow for a cumulative effect over the length of the course.

2. Skip the stations you aren’t sure how to use, that seem beyond your fitness level or ones that seem acrobatic or difficult to balance on if you are not particularly athletic or have something less than an excellent strength-to-body weight ratio. If you can’t easily do jumping jacks or hop on one foot for 10 seconds, skip these types of stations.

3. If you do strength work for your legs (squats or lunges), leave that one until the end, even if a leg strength station is presented earlier in the sequence. Why? Because you need to save your leg endurance for the rest of the jogging between stations and it could also compromise your balance and footing if you work your legs too hard before you finish the course.

4. Take along a resistance band for arm and shoulder work and exercise these muscle groups at the stations you skip (or spread evenly throughout the course). Look at the guide provided in the band package or contact me for animated links of suggested band exercises.

Par courses can be a lot of fun and a nice break from the gym routine if you know how to make it fit your needs and fitness capabilities.

So get out there and have some fun!


Learn more about how to get and stay in great shape? Contact Dan at Tri Valley Trainer

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