What are the Different Types of Outdoor Fitness Equipment?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

There are a number of kinds of outdoor fitness equipment. In general, models in this line of equipment are intended for use in public parks and similar areas of recreation. The most important thing about the equipment is that it can stand up to many different kinds of weather without becoming damaged or somehow unusable. With this in mind, many kinds of outdoor fitness equipment are made of wood, some kind of rust-proof or rust-proofed metal, or a combination of the two. The models sometimes also include plastic or synthetic pieces.

Playground equipment, such as a seesaw, must be routinely checked to ensure it's in good working condition.
Playground equipment, such as a seesaw, must be routinely checked to ensure it's in good working condition.

One of the most well-known types of outdoor fitness equipment are the models found on playgrounds. Jungle gyms, swing sets, slides, and the entire array of playground equipment are intended for activities that require strenuous physical activity. Just take a look at a playground full of children. On the swing sets, the children pump their legs and arch their backs. On the jungle gyms, children climb, pull themselves up, and reach for rungs. All of these activities, while they may look like play, are also forms of exercise.

Some playgrounds feature a seesaw, or teeter-tooter.
Some playgrounds feature a seesaw, or teeter-tooter.

Similar models to what is found on playgrounds can be found in adult fitness circuits in parks and other outdoor areas. Although the equipment is large in scale and usually designed in less vibrant colors, many of the basic concepts are the same. A chin-up bar, for example, is the adult version of a jungle gym. The chin-up bar is one of the most common types of outdoor fitness equipment. There are also bars which are placed low to the ground which are intended to be used while doing push-ups.

Biking is a good way to exercise while enjoying the outdoors.
Biking is a good way to exercise while enjoying the outdoors.

Many companies that manufacture outdoor fitness equipment also include a sit-up bench. Much like the benches found in indoor gyms, this piece of equipment is made up of an angled bench with a foot rest at the top. When a person lies down on the bench with his feet secured in the foot rest, he can do sit-ups to strengthen the abdominal muscles.

Kids build arm strength on jungle gyms.
Kids build arm strength on jungle gyms.

It is rare for outdoor fitness equipment to have moving pieces or parts. This is because the equipment is designed to have require very little maintenance and upkeep. This kind of equipment also rarely has removable pieces, such as hand weights. In this way, outdoor fitness equipment is quite minimalist in its scope but can be a useful addition to a fitness circuit in an outdoor area and can help to boost the impact of a jog or run.

A slide is standard equipment in a playground.
A slide is standard equipment in a playground.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

irontoenail

@Fa5t3r - I guess that stuff counts as fitness equipment, but I always thought of outdoor fitness equipment as those machines and structures that are similar to what they have in a gym.

The park down the road from me just set up a bunch of them and they are supposed to be body building and flexibility equipment that works without electricity and won't break down from being outside.

I don't know how long it will last, as they've put it in a fairly bad neighborhood, but I think it's a wonderful initiative in theory, because a lot of people who can't afford the gym will be able to use it.

It's a little more fancy than standard outdoor fitness trail equipment, like chin-up poles and hurdles, but still fairly sturdy, so I hope it lasts for a long time and gets used a lot.

Fa5t3r

@Mor - I would add to that with a few other simple items that don't cost much. The skipping rope is a classic of course and can be used for all kinds of different workouts. The hula hoop might not strike people as being exercise equipment, but using it is pretty good for your stomach and back muscles and it's fun as well.

You can't go wrong with a ball, particularly one that's intended for exercise, like a medicine ball or a Pilates ball (although Pilates balls might be mostly too fragile to use outside where they might burst).

But even a basketball can be used for fun fitness and agility training without necessarily having the intention of joining a team.

Mor

One of the most under rated pieces of outdoor fitness equipment is plain old stairs. Whenever you use stairs you've got to lift your weight up as well as forward and it's an excellent workout that you can basically have for free.

I have friends who have discovered every big set of stairs in our city and regularly visit each one to race up and down as training for races.

I'm not quite at the point where I can race up and down, but even just walking up stairs is a wonderful workout for most people. And even a small staircase with a few steps can be used creatively.

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