By Catarah Coleman

If increasing your heart rate a few times a week is your goal, a nearby Los Angeles County Park could be the right fit for you. 

For a long time, parks have been considered the “New Gym” because of their large open space for walking, running and other individual and group exercise options, which are mostly free of charge. Workout newbies and enthusiasts alike have taken to the peaceful outdoors to get fit. Take a trip to many County parks at any time of day and you’ll find individuals and families enjoying the walking paths, swimming, hiking trails, softball and soccer fields, basketball courts and ZUMBA classes all in a beautiful green open space.

In the past few years, County Parks have made an effort to provide stationary exercise equipment in “Fitness Zones” similar to those at local gyms, but without the cost. At many County parks, visitors can receive a beneficial workout with gym quality equipment targeting the upper and lower body and cardio. Not only do park workouts save you money, but, they may also be better for your health.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, physical activity, along with a healthy diet, is the key to having a healthy weight, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Adults need 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day to keep their weight the same.

Normal amounts of physical activity are good for your health and well-being in a variety of ways. Physical activity can:

• Raise your self-esteem and lower stress, anxiety, and depression.

• Make your bones, muscles and joints strong.

• Make you more flexible and make your posture better.

• Lower your risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and breast and colon cancer.

• Boost your energy level.

Please consider visiting a Fitness Zone featuring exercise equipment at one of the following County parks:

Santa Fe Dam Recreational area, Irwindale; Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, South El Monte; Peter F. Schabarum Regional Park, Rowland Heights; Jackie Robinson Park, Littlerock; Acton Park, Acton; El Cariso Community Regional Park, Sylmar; Atlantic Avenue Park, East Los Angeles;  Avocado Heights Park, La Puente; Arcadia Community Regional Park, Arcadia; Bassett Park, La Puente; Loma Alta Park, Altadena; Allen J. Martin Park, Whittier; Eugene A. Obregon Park, East Los Angeles; Pamela County Park, Duarte; Belvedere Community Regional Park, East Los Angeles; Dalton Park, Azusa; Charles S. Farnsworth Park, Altadena; Rimgrove Park, La Puente; Ruben Salazar Park, East Los Angeles; San Angelo Park, La Puente; Sunshine Park, La Puente; Valleydale Park, Azusa; and Charles White Park, Altadena.