5 ways to stay active in public spaces

By BgBeActive

The benefits of physical activity are broad and include improved mental health state, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, improved sleep, and better problem-solving abilities.

For that reason, it is always a good idea to consider different ways we could be active in the urban environment. Because the opportunities for physical activity vary from city to city, the best option is to use what you have. In some places, you can find ski centres, gyms, and ramps. In others, the park is the only possible option. Find something that motivates you personally to be active. That’s why you can look for a variety of places and activities to feed all your needs – football and hockey, skating and playing table tennis, swimming pools and waterparks, and many others.

However, it is certainly not necessary for one to be engaged in professional sports or go to a gym in order to be more physically active in one's everyday routine.

Here are some universal tips on how to enhance your physical activity during the day:

●    Walk and use bikes or other types of ‘health-enhancing’’ equipment, such as rollers, a skateboard or a scooter, while moving around the city.
●    Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
●    Go grocery shopping instead of ordering food.

Apart from making you healthier, these easy-to-implement activities will allow you to make your city greener by reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced by cars and public transport.
Other ideas include:

●    Go dancing in the evening rather than spending time watching TV.
●    Play with your kids on sports grounds. 
●    Have a walk with your dog in the park.
●    Spend more time with your friends and colleagues outdoors: jogging, playing table tennis, badminton or frisbee.

The above-mentioned activities are also likely to positively influence your mood because of their social aspect. Indeed, it’s easier to increase and maintain your HEPA (health-enhancing physical activities) behaviour by being surrounded by supportive people trying to be active with you.

However, all these basic activities require friendly and accessible public spaces. As Małgorzata Kostrzewska writes in her research “Activating Public Space”: “Cooperation between residents, designers, developers, local authorities, school principals, and other stakeholders, e.g. NGOs, is necessary to achieve a properly functioning system of public spaces, sports and recreation areas, as well as pedestrian and bike routes. There is a danger that without local leaders, interesting and integrating programmes, strong communities, residents’ awareness of their needs, wise parents, active kids, and open schools, public spaces and sports fields could be, if not empty, used occasionally or not used by all the interested parties. Even a properly designed space, therefore, is not everything. Sport is present in the cities thanks to active people, not sports facilities. Places of importance for the residents are being created by taking action, not only by preparing design plans. That being said, it has to be remembered that through its aesthetic and functional solutions, design can and should play a great role in motivating and encouraging people to undertake physical activities in public spaces.”

Drawing on the latest academic research, as well as best practices, we offer innovative ways to contribute to the vision of a more livable urban future. Placemaking for public health, but also for the environment and social integration. With the right urban environment, it is not necessary to go to the gym or special sports classes in order to be active.

We recommend you to check out: Helpful resources (staying active at the office and sedentary lifestyle): Physical Activity Breaks for the Workplace, Resource Guide, May 2021 (cdc.gov)

More about the Park(ing) Day for Fitness project:

The mission of the Park(ing) Day for Fitness events is to draw attention to the many (untapped) opportunities our cities offer for physical activity, the need for more outdoor spaces where people can exercise safely, and to provoke public debate on how to adapt in times of crisis and improve the quality of the urban environment. The project also aims to highlight the urban features of public spaces in modern cities, specifically parking spaces, and how they can contribute to promoting physical activity.  
Park(ing) day for Fitness is funded by the European Union. The project coordinator is BG Be Active, and the other partner organizations are Placemaking Europe, Association Sport for all Suceava (AJSPT Suceava), V4 SPORT FOUNDATION, Azur Sport Sante, and XsentrikArts. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EACEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Posted on 16/08/2022 by BgBeActive