One Obstacle at a Time
Movement is medicine but finding the time and space to get that movement in is another story! As a population, we just aren’t finding that time or place to get the exercise we need. It’s evident by the numbers that we aren’t exercising enough, if at all. The statistics are bleak with obesity rates amongst adults at almost 40% and youth at 18.5%. Only roughly 23% of adults met minimum exercise requirements for health benefits. That’s more than 75% that didn’t. So, enough about that – how can we work toward a solution?
Outdoor fitness is a viable option to help combat the lack of exercise. It’s fun, it builds community, it is accessible to all ages, and it’s free. In addition to these benefits, it is also important to note that specifically obstacle course fitness – one area of outdoor fitness – is a growing trend and brings in both traditional and non-traditional participants. Part of the reason for this is because obstacle courses are fun, functional and offer the opportunity to work together toward a common goal. Obstacle courses also tap into the achievement goal theory which proposes that the primary motivation to learn, strive and persist is the desire to demonstrate competence in two ways. One is improving and mastering skills and second is performance orientation. This means that we want to improve upon ourselves and compete against others in this setting.
A properly designed course fosters the most progress and creates a space people want to use. Having a variety of obstacles helps participants exercise different areas of their bodies and provides a combination of muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory fitness and balance that helps users get the best training outcomes and makes the process more enjoyable. Diversity is key when it comes to exercise for both body and mind! Boredom is a key reason people stop exercising and obstacle courses can be fun and engaging with the proper layouts and events.
Designing your course for progression is another way to keep participants engaged and furthering their abilities. It allows users to see progress and compare their current selves to former selves and set goals. It also offers people of different abilities and ages the chance to exercise together, providing family and community activities. Each event should have multiple ways to use it at different fitness levels from beginner to fitness mature. This not only allows varying ages to work out in the same space but offers room for skills and fitness to improve without having to change the place where people can work out. Having instructions and a map around the course helps users exercise safely and feel more comfortable. An online app is also a way to accomplish this and meets people where they are used to obtaining information.
Building a healthy community through fitness is a viable and long-lasting way to bring people together, away from screens and partaking in movement. Is this the only solution to our overscheduled sometimes sedentary lives? No, the solution is multifaceted. But this is a start...and we have to start somewhere.