Ever rush out of the house and forget your phone? First there’s panic. Then, once you realize the sky hasn't fallen, there's a sense of freedom. It feels so good, you might just "forget" your phone a little more often.
Could it be we're tired of being tethered to technology? There's a movement afoot to get back to nature, soaking up the sunshine and sounds of the great outdoors instead of the buzzes, dings and beeps always vying for our attention.
In fact, one of the top fitness trends for 2017 is outdoor sports and activities. People are turning from technology and heading outside for hiking, camping and outdoor games. The Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission is seeing this shift and three years ago launched its MoveIT! Charleston County program to help people meet their fitness needs in the natural surroundings of the county parks.
Programs – at a variety of skill levels – take advantage of the parks and recreation resources with classes like fitness boot camp, yoga, run/walk clinics, stand-up paddleboard yoga and Tai Chi.
“The parks have turned into the outdoor gym,” says Gina Ellis-Strother, director of marketing.
The best part? No technology required.
“Outdoor workouts, often dubbed ‘green exercise,’ have been touted as a great alternative to the gym because of the calming effects that communing with nature has proven to provide,” Ellis-Strother says.
She points to benefits like lower blood pressure and cholesterol and extra Vitamin D from sunshine to ward off diseases and build bone strength. Plus, she notes, Mother Nature can be more nurturing than a gym when it comes to mood, self-esteem and mental health.
Ellis-Strother knows how much she enjoys her twice-weekly runs at James Island County Park as she trains for this year’s Cooper River Bridge Run.
You don’t need a formal class to take advantage of the county parks. Taking the kids on a bike ride, jogging the trails or playing Frisbee in an open grassy field – these are all ways to reap the benefits of being outside and unplugged. Plus, there are programs like rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding and even bird watching that get participants moving.
Ellis-Strother notes that most Charleston County residents are only 15 minutes from a county park facility, so they have easy access to trails or organized fitness programs and classes.
If you’re thinking about rebelling from technology in 2017, consider getting out into nature at one of the county parks. Technology has a lot of great benefits, Ellis-Strother says, but, like anything, it’s best in moderation.
“Reconnect with Mother Nature – the sights, the sounds, the creatures,” she says. “It’s a way to refresh yourself.”
To find a park near you, or to learn more about Charleston County Parks, visit CharlestonCountyParks.com.