The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

Spring Lake Village Creates New Par Course

As our communities shelter in place, residents are finding creative solutions for staying active to manage their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Exercising outside is a great option. The Spring Lake Village Wellness Team has created a par course around the campus to bolster the opportunities for outdoor exercise.

“Many residents already enjoy walking the beautiful creekside path and campus perimeter. Now it will also host an opportunity for a full body workout as you walk,” says Casey Westbrook, Wellness Coordinator. The course includes 17 different stations and 36 exercises targeting all the important aspects of physical fitness for older adults: balance, strength, flexibility, coordination, agility and cardiovascular fitness.

Par courses have become increasingly popular since the first one was developed by the Swiss architect Erin Weckmenn in 1968. Par courses are exercise circuits set outdoors in a park, neighborhood or community. The exercise circuit consists of stations located in one area or spaced out along a trail, each suggesting a different exercise that can be done with little equipment. Since their invention, cities and parks around the world have developed these environmental features to promote the physical health of their communities.

“Par courses provide many health benefits,” says Westbrook. “It is already known that exercise promotes good physical, mental and emotional health, and being outside provides additional health benefits. Studies show that exercising outdoors boosts mood and reduces depression through increased Vitamin D production. Just five minutes of low to moderate intensity outdoor exercise can provide increased self-esteem. Furthermore, exercising outside enhances our connection to nature which can be especially important when we have limited access to the outdoors.”

The Spring Lake Village Par Course starts on the creekside path just outside of the Village Center, and progresses counter-clockwise around campus. Starting at the first station, residents progress by heading towards the Dell to the second station and so on. Most stations are on the often-walked perimeter trail of the campus; however, some take short detours off the trail. 

“Par courses are wonderful in that each person can make the exercises their own,” says Westbrook. Residents can start at any point. The numbers are for reference, but not a requirement for the order in which exercises must be performed. They can do the entire circuit at once, skip the stations that don’t work for them, or break up the course into pieces that can be done over a few different walks.  

With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting our communities, Westbrook offers a few health and safety tips for using the par course whether at Spring Lake Village or in other locations:

  • Maintain Social Distance –– Keep 6 feet or two meters away from other people. This means that you might need to wait until another person is finished using a station if you cannot maintain a six foot physical distance away from them at all times.
  • Bring a Mask –– Please put a mask on whenever the 6 foot social distancing rule cannot be maintained.
  • Sanitize Hands – Please use hand washing or hand gel before beginning the par course, before and after each station that involves touching surfaces, and upon completion of your workout.
  • Stay Hydrated – Carry a water bottle and hydrate frequently throughout your workout. On warm days, exercise in the cooler hours of the morning or evening.

*This post was originally published in the Spring Lake Village newsletter.