There are plenty of ways to exercise and improve your wellbeing without spending a cent, while getting involved with people in your area will help you find a healthy sense of community.
Exercise that’s free for all
WALKING WITH FRIENDS
There are 145 registered Heart Foundation Walking Groups in South Australia, offering free and social outdoor activities for all ages. The Heart Foundation website contains information about groups listed by suburb, with details of walk times, speed, duration and whether they are pram or dog friendly. Each group has a weekly meeting point, and contact details of the walk organiser. If your area doesn’t have a group, why not organise one?
For an active day out, while making a difference to the local environment, consider becoming a bush carer with Trees for Life. Bush action team days are a fun, healthy and rewarding way to make your contribution to the health of a local bush location. Along with helping to protect threatened species and habitats, the program provides an opportunity to spend time outdoors with others and connect with nature. The program was created in 1994 to help people take practical steps to conserve bushland. Today, volunteers look after more than 300 sites covering over 4000 hectares, returning valuable bushland to health.
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
At more than 50 hectares in size, the Adelaide Botanic Garden contains a sprawling network of paths and walkways that take visitors on a leafy adventure through the many themed collections of gardens, with pavilions, lawns and the Bicentennial Conservatory. Free to enter, the garden provides an opportunity to stretch your legs and get lost in nature, admiring the abundant bird and animal life that calls the garden home. Volunteers also offer free guided walks departing daily at 10.30am from the visitor information centre.
HIT THE COURT
There are several outdoor basketball courts spread across Adelaide, and all are free to use. Check out the two blue-surfaced courts on leafy South Terrace, opposite Pulteney Grammar School. For a game of hoops day or night, there’s the floodlit Bowden Courts next to the railway lines across the road from Plant 4. Alternatively, the half-court on Whitmore Square might be tempting for its green surroundings and close proximity to a handful of trendy cafes. If tennis is more your thing, there are dozens of courts free to access throughout the Adelaide Park Lands.
A WALK IN THE PARK
Parkrun is a not-for-profit organisation, arranging free, weekly five-kilometre timed runs, with locations around the world. They are open to everyone, safe and easy to take part in, with the added benefit of running with others in a social setting. People from all walks of life are encouraged to take part, from walkers and beginner runners to athletes, as well as children. Once you sign up, you can track your progress each week and aim to improve on your five-kilometre time. Events are held throughout the state, and you can even start a new parkrun in your town.
FITNESS AND FRESH AIR
With councils increasing their focus on wellbeing and health, there has been a surge in the number of outdoor fitness trails and gym stations dotted throughout South Australia. For a workout in the Adelaide Park Lands check out the City of Adelaide’s website, which has an interactive map showing all locations of various fitness stations. The City of Charles Sturt contains 90 separate pieces of fixed gym equipment, catering for everything from squats to chest press, sit-ups and monkey bars. Some stations also provide a fun playground-like activities for children. See your local council website for locations.
Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout, promoting circulation throughout the body, while exposure to sunshine and immersion in the ocean can actively improve mood and health. Hydrotherapy has long been used in rehabilitation, and there are also potential benefits of cold-water exposure, which has been associated with an increase in the release of dopamine and serotonin. Seawater also contains minerals that are touted as having benefits for the skin, while exercising in nature is said to provide greater mental health benefits.
This story first appeared in the February 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.
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