5 free ways to get your heart pumping

5 free ways to get your heart pumping
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This paid content was created in partnership with OrthoCarolina.

Coming up with excuses for why I can’t work out is one of my favorite pastimes.

I’m too tired.

It’s too hot.

I’m too broke. 

Then, I found out that only 30 minutes of exercise a day can lower my risk of heart disease. Time to retire that list of excuses.

On September 29, the American Heart Association is hosting the 2018 Greater Charlotte Heart Walk. It supports a great cause and walking is my preferred pace. No excuses needed.

Fitting physical activity into your life doesn’t have to hard (or expensive). Try these 5 free ways to get your heart pumping around the Queen City.

(1) Work up a sweat using First Ward Park’s exercise equipment

That’s right, First Ward Park has it’s own exercise equipment. It’s like an adult jungle gym. Unleash your inner child and spend 30 minutes trying out the machines. 

Where: First Ward Park, 309 East 7th St.
Why: Without regular exercise the body slowly loses its strength and ability to function well.  Physical activity=living a longer, healthier life.
Pro tip: Add a bodyweight circuit to your routine for added heart pumping. Watch #thefreeworkout videos here for inspiration.

(2) Shoot some hoops on the court at Dilworth’s Latta Park

Playing basketball is a good way to trick yourself into exercising without realizing it. You’ll be more worried about crushing the competition than whining about how much you’re sweating. Even a game of H-O-R-S-E is better than nothing.

Where: Latta Park, 601 E Park Ave.
Why: Getting our heart rate to the peak training zone is a great way to strengthen your heart. During vigorous physical activity such as basketball, your heart rate about 70-85% at it’s maximum.
Pro tip: Invite your friends and make it a competition. You can play one-on-one or five-on-five.

(3) Go for a bike ride on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway extension

Little Sugar Creek Greenway offers miles of scenic biking trails. It’s not just a lovely ride, it’s also a solid workout and makes you feel like a kid again. Stop in Freedom Park for a break.

Where: Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Why: You can burn between 400-500 calories per hour when you cycle at 12 mph.
Pro tip: Don’t have a bike? Rent one on the cheap with B-Cycle or one of the many other bike share companies.

(4) Play a game of soccer at Freedom Park

Organize a game after work and you can release any pent up stress while you get some much needed cardio in. Freedom Park has 3 soccer fields, so plenty of room for multiple games. 

Where: Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd.
Why: Soccer is good for your heart in so many ways. It increases aerobic capacity, lowers body fat, improves muscle tone, builds strength, teaches coordination and improves overall cardiovascular health.
Pro tip: Bring along some orange slices and gatorade for half-time. Ah, just like the old days.

(5) Take a free yoga class at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

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Yep, you can take free yoga classes at the USNWC (prepare to pay for parking). They offer classes every day of the week and they welcome all levels. For a more chill option, go with a Slow Flow class. 

Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Why: Strength and stretching exercises are best for your overall stamina and flexibility.  It may put you in an uncomfortable position, but with practice you can reduce stress and improve your health.
Pro tip: Once you’re feeling good about your practice, try a stand-up paddle board yoga class on one of their festival weekends.

Interested in walking for heart health on September 29?

Sign up here for the 2018 Greater Charlotte Heart Walk.

This paid content was created in partnership with OrthoCarolina.

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