Friday, February 9, 2018

Get Heart Healthy in the Parks

Did you know February is American Heart Month? Heart disease is one of the top causes of death in the U.S. But the good news is that becoming more active can assist in reducing your risk of heart disease.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is encouraging people to move more, striving for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week "that gets your heart pumping and leaves you a little breathless." Though 2 1/2 hours may seem like a lot of time, the NHLBI reminds people that small amounts of activity throughout the day add up quickly and are beneficial.

There are plenty of ways to increase your physical activity, and the Park System wants to remind you that we're here to help!

A terrific way to get moving is to head out for a brisk walk or bike ride on the trails. The Park System has over 130 miles of trails to enjoy throughout the year. Trails are given difficulty ratings to help visitors choose those that are best suited for them:

  • Easy trails are those that are well-maintained or paved and intended for walking or running.
  • Moderate trails are longer and have some grades and/or obstructions. They are intended for hiking, equestrians, and all-terrain bicycles. 
  • Challenging trails are much more primitive with steep grades or obstructions and are intended for more experienced hikers, equestrians and all-terrain cyclists.
  • Paved trails are great for activities such as in-line skating, bicycle riding, or walking with strollers.
  • Fitness trails are a great way to add something extra to your walk/run. These trails offer exercise stations at various points.
  • Nature trails are a great way to view plants, wildlife and environmental features during your walk.
Did you know that during a brisk 30-minute walk you burn approximately 167 calories?
Some of the Park System's most popular trails include the 5-mile perimeter trail at Manasquan Reservoir, Howell; the 4.2-mile Thompson Loop at Thompson Park, Lincroft; the 0.8-mile Fitness Trail at Holmdel Park, Holmdel; and the 1.3-mile Battery Loop at Hartshorne Woods Park (Rocky Point section), Highlands. For details on all of the Park System's trails, click here.

Playing golf is another great way to increase your activity! According to Harvard Men's Health Watch, walking while playing 18 holes of golf "is about equal to brisk walking in terms of intensity." A golfer may walk approximately four miles and burn between 800-900 calories during an average round of golf. If you ride in a cart, this cuts the walking distance down to about one mile and you burn about half the calories.

The Park System offers five championship 18-hole courses, two 18-hole executive courses, and a 9-hole, par 3 course. Our facilities accommodate golfers of all skill levels. Courses maintained by the Monmouth County Park System are Bel-Aire, Wall; Charleston Springs, Millstone Township; Hominy Hill, Colts Neck; Howell Park, Farmingdale; Pine Brook, Manalapan; and Shark River, Neptune. Looking to learn how to play or to improve your game? The Park System also offers a wide variety of classes and clinics during the spring, summer and fall. Check out what's coming up this spring!

Children need to be active too! The Center for Disease Control recommends children get 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. This is easy to accomplish by adding trips to the playground into your schedule. Playgrounds offer the perfect place for your child to have fun while running, climbing, and jumping. Playgrounds can be found in a variety of Park System locations including Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck; Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook, Atlantic Highlands; Shark River Park, Wall; and Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold.

For a full list of park locations with playgrounds your children will love, click here

"A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don't want to sweat the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you like and will stick with, and build more opportunities to be active into your routine." - American Heart Association

These ideas are just some of the ways you can get healthy in your Monmouth County parks. There are also a wide variety of sports & fitness programs offered throughout the year for adults and children. From belly dancing to yoga, martial arts to tennis, and so much more, there's plenty to help you get moving. For full details on upcoming programs in the parks, check out the winter and spring volumes of our Parks & Programs Guide

For more information on the Monmouth County parks, check us out at