Parks are the new playgrounds
From parties and picnics to people watching and dog-patting, discover a few of the most rewarding ways you can enjoy your time in the park.
Parks are definitely underrated. After all, here are these open green spaces, just sitting there looking pretty, waiting for people to take advantage of their ability to both entertain small children and give adults the respite they crave. Parks inspire health and wellness, fitness and frivolity, social fulfilment and more. If you haven’t visited a park lately, you really, really should. But if you’re looking for something more than your standard strolling or sitting, read on for a few park-centric activities that will nourish your body, mind and spirit.
A BIT OF FRIENDLY COMPETITION
The breeze is gentle, the birds are chirping, and everything would feel perfectly calm… if it wasn’t for the adrenaline coursing through your veins as you do everything in your power to avoid toppling the tower. Yes, parks are the perfect places for a little bit of friendly competition, whether you’re battling with blocks, kicking a ball or seeing who can roll fastest down the nearest grassy knoll. The same goes for any game including, but not limited to: badminton, boules, board games, card games, croquet, grip ball, football, frisbee, throw and catch, egg and spoon races… the possibilities are endless.
HAVE A PARTY
Birthdays/ anniversaries/ just-because-it’s-Wednesday are all valid reasons to celebrate in a park. Invite people whose company you like, pack food you enjoy eating, pop a few drinks in the basket and head to the green for a rewarding day of mental, physical and social nourishment. The park’s already there to welcome you with its soft grassy carpet, attractive surrounds, natural beauty and uplifting atmosphere. All you need is a festive spirit and a picnic rug.
PAT SOME DOGS
Is there anything more joyful than meeting a dog? Patting its soft, fluffy body? Watching it frolic in the grass without a care in the world? Our canine companions are magnets for connection. If you have one, you’ll know the joy of being stopped and complimented over Rufus’s shiny coat. If you don’t have one, you’ll appreciate the transient moments when you and a stranger have the love of a small cavoodle in common. If you find yourself in a dog-free park, try bird-watching or bug spotting. It might not be as cute, but as far as mindful pursuits go, it still gets ten points.
BEND AND STRETCH, HUFF AND PUFF
Whether you’re downward-dogging your way to yoga-induced bliss, enjoying a gentle jog or joining a bootcamp for maximum calorie burn, parks are the embodiment of good health and fitness. Outside the confines of a stinky gym, you can exercise to your hearts content, breathe in the fresh, fragrant air, be spurred on by scenery and enjoy the cool-down capabilities of the breeze. And that’s not to mention the motivation you’ll get from being surrounded by other park-loving exercisers. You might even make a new friend or two.
UNPLUG AND RECHARGE
We spend so much time attached to our screens that powering down for a break—without checking emails or doom-scrolling the news—is astoundingly refreshing. Parks are perfect environments in which to sit mindfully, observe life, find peace, space and clarity of thought. Research has found that disconnecting from our screens is like a reboot for the brain, with tremendous benefits for our mental health, happiness and general wellbeing. That’s in addition to the scientifically proven positives of being in green spaces which include reducing anxiety and depression and limiting the risk of chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So switch off, relax and take a deep breath; feel the soft grass between your toes and connect with your surroundings. Spend some meaningful time in a park, and if only for a moment, everything will seem right in the world.