Move It Monday with NYC Parks

Fun, easy, and accessible ideas to help all New Yorkers start the week with physical activity and fitness.

A park is many things to many people: a place to play, a source of inspiration, an escape from the hustle and bustle; but, for kids, a park is the ultimate space for adventure. Children enter the park with energy and excitement, and there’s no better way to positively channel that spirit then with some family fitness.
Using yoga-inspired movements, you can simultaneously promote physical activity, while fostering learning. This Monday, motivate the young people in your household or family unit to stay active with fun animal poses and exercises.

Lion poseLion Pose

1. Sit in your mobility device or kneel down on a mat and sit back on your heels with palms resting on the knees.

2. Inhale and reach the crown of the head up to lengthen the spine.

3. As you exhale, bring the palms to the floor in front of the knees, splaying out your fingers like claws, and arching the spine.

4. As you breathe in through your nose, open your mouth, and try to stretch your tongue to your chin. Breathe out through your mouth and let out a roar!

5. If you’re doing this outside or in a park, remember to wear a face-covering and keep it on when you roar.


Frog PoseFrog Pose

1. Find a stance that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

2. Keeping your chest tall, bend at your hips and knees at the same time, and begin to squat by lowering yourself to the floor

3. If you’re using a mobility device, open your legs and bend from the hips with your arms hanging straight down with a flat back and proud chest.

4. Think about keeping your body-weight over the midline of the foot to ensure you’re not rocking forward or backward.

5. Squat as deep as you can, while trying to keep your torso relatively upright and your heels on the ground. Avoid shifting the weight to your toes. This puts stress on the knees and may cause pain.

6. Rest your arms on your knees or let them hang towards the ground.

7. If you’re having difficulty squatting so deep, shorten the range of motion, use a door jam or stable surface to hold onto for support as you lower yourself down. This will help keep the torso upright and the weight evenly distributed in the feet.

8. To incorporate more movement turn this into a Frog Jump. Jump forward and as high as you can, landing softly on your toes and sitting back into that deep squat.

9. Be sure to add in a few ribbits or croaks while you’re at it.


Elephant Pose

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart facing forward or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.). Keep your head up, gaze forward, chest out, and shoulders back. Keep the back straight and the legs fixed with a slight bend in the knee

2. Hinge or bend at the waist, keeping the back straight, leading with the chest and you bend forward until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Remember to breathe.

3. Once the lower back begins to relax, with control bend over the rest of the way, reaching your hands towards your feet, hanging and relaxing. Let the neck relax and breathe smoothly.

4. To make an elephant trunk, clasp your hands together and bring your biceps close to your cheeks. Allow the arms to swing side to side like an elephant’s trunk.

5. Incorporate more movement by taking steps forward and backward or stomping in place. If you’re using a mobility device, mimic the motion with the shoulders.

Find a NYC Park Near You

New York City has over 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities, Use the NYC Parks "Places to Go" page to see what's near you and get inspired to get moving outdoors this Monday.

Anyone living in New York City knows that exercising outside isn’t always a practical or convenient option. During the holiday season, colder temperatures, health concerns, and the general hustle and bustle of the city keep us indoors. But just because the ponds, fields, and sidewalks will soon freeze over, doesn’t mean you have to put your physical activity goals on ice.

Make exercise enjoyable with a set of anywhere arms and chest workouts that you can do either outside or from the comfort of your home or apartment. Worried about investing in expensive equipment? Don’t be. None of these fitness movements require any equipment that you can’t find in the park or at your home. So, when the weather outside is frightful, it’s always nice to have the option to exercise indoors.

Seated arm circlesSeated arm circles:

1. Using a chair, stool, couch, bed, or bench.

2. Sit upright with feet placed firmly on the floor.

3. Raise your arms straight out to your sides, to form a T shape.

4. Pinch your shoulder blades together.

5. Extend arms with palms down, thumbs facing forward, completing a forward circle with your arms.

6. Flip your palms up, thumbs facing up, completing a backward circle with your arms.

7. If you desire resistance, use two matching cans, water bottles, or a light set of free weights. Pick a resistance that you can manage comfortably without compromising your posture or swinging the items.


Incline pushup on benchIncline push​-up:  

1. Use a stable and/or propped low counter, bed, table, or another solid surface that is about 3 feet high

2. Stand facing the bench, table, or the edge of a bed.

3. Place your hands on the edge of the bench just slightly wider than shoulder-width. Your arms are straight, but elbows are not locked.

4. Keeping the feet together, align your feet so that your arms and body are completely straight. To keep the hips stable widen your feet.

5. Maintaining one giant straight line from your head through your heels, brace your core and bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest to the edge of the bench while inhaling. The arms should be no more than 45 degrees away from your sides (arrow shape).

6. Push your body away from the bench until your elbows are extended, but not locked. Exhale as you push up.

7. Keep going with slow, steady repetitions.

8. For more of a tricep focus, keep the arms glued to your side (“I” shape).

9. For those who utilize a wheelchair or mobility device and are able to get to the floor, but from your knees. Use a wall to help support and stabilize the feet and legs and repeat the same steps to perform a push-up.


Tricep dips on benchTriceps Dips:  

1. Using a ​stable and/or propped chair, couch, or bench.

2. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of your couch with your palms down and your fingers facing forward.

3. With your legs extended in front of you and your arms straight, lower your body by bending your elbows.

4. Keep lowering your body toward the floor until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle.

5. Press your palms into the couch to push back up to the starting position.

6. Keep the elbows in line with the shoulders and stacked over the wrists. To reduce the resistance, bend the knees instead of keeping the legs extended.

7. Try doing three sets of 15 dips or as many dips as you can in 30-second intervals.

8. For those who utilize a wheelchair or mobility device and are able to get to the floor, perform this movement from the floor. Use a wall to help support and stabilize the feet and legs if necessary.

9. You will start by laying propped up resting on your forearms, palms flat, thumbs in line with the hips.

10. Press through the palms of your hands into the floor to sit as tall as possible ending in an “L” shape position. Your shoulders should be stacked over your wrists making a straight line, chest proud. Squeeze the triceps at the top of the movement and exhale.

11. Maintaining a strong upright torso, bend the elbows with control and slowly lower back to the start position.

Want more Move It Monday tips? Subscribe to the Healthy Monday newsletter!

We may not realize it, but many everyday activities—walking upstairs, putting away groceries, getting off the couch—engage the muscles in our lower body. Strengthening your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves can help make ordinary tasks easier by improving your balance, stability, and strength.

Basic lower body exercises are simple to execute and don’t require any special equipment or space, which means you can do them pretty much anywhere, from your living room floor to your favorite patch of grass. Make this Monday your day to commit to fortifying your foundation and strengthening your lower body.

 

Reverse Lunges

1. Stand upright, with both feet facing forward, feet hip-distance, shoulder-width apart. This will ensure a more stable starting position and avoid lunging on a “tightrope.”

2. Take a large step backward with one leg, keeping your chest upright and your eye gaze forward

3. The majority of your weight should be on your front foot as you lower your hips, keeping the front foot flat and the back heel lifted

4. Making sure your front knee does not move forward past your front toe, descend straight down until your back knee almost touches the floor and the front knee remains stacked directly above the ankle, creating 90° bend in both knees

5. Drive through the heel of your front foot, not the toe, and push yourself back up to the starting position.

6. Repeat on the other leg

7. For balance, place your hands on your hips or one hand on a chair for support.


Seated Straight Leg Raises 

1. Sit at the edge of a bench or chair that is high enough that your knees make a 90° with both feet firmly on the floor, hands on each side of the chair seat.

2. Keep your upper body still while you extend and straighten your leg until it is horizontal.

3. Flex the muscles (quadriceps) on the top of your leg.

4. Hold for 3-5 seconds before slowly returning to the start position.

5. Switch sides and repeat.

Fitting a quick cardio workout to start your week can help improve heart health, regulate weight, and lower blood pressure. And you don’t need to end up drenched in sweat to reap the benefits.

This Monday, head outdoors—weather permitting—and create your own custom cardio exercise circuit. Don’t know what workouts to start with? Well, we’ve got a couple introductory movements that are easy to execute and perfect for all ability levels. Try mixing it up with a variety of combinations as your move it this Monday.

The “Boxer’s” Position (Setting up)

1. Stand or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.) with your hands up, elbows in, feet hip-width apart.

2a. If standing and right-side dominant, move your left foot and hand forward for the traditional or “orthodox” boxing position. If you’re left-side dominant, move your right foot and hand forward for the “southpaw” position. Angle your front foot slightly towards your opponent, offset your back foot about 45 degrees diagonally, back heel lifted, and slightly bend your knees.

2b. If seated, position yourself at a slight angle in your mobility device in the same manner as above, based on your dominant side, to mirror the boxer’s position.

 


The Jab

1. Leading from your knuckles, extend your front fist in a punching motion forward while exhaling. Tighten your fist at the moment of actual or perceived contact.

2. While the fist is extending outwards, rotate your entire front arm so that the punch lands with the palm of your fist facing down and your shoulder rotated up to cover your chin.

3. Bring back your arm to ​its original position. Try to make sure your other arm is guarding your chin during the whole movement.

4. The punch should be quick but relaxed.


The Cross  

1a. This is your strongest punch and incorporates rotation. If standing, start from your boxer’s position and rotate from your hips and upper body as you pivot on the back foot of your dominant side.

1b. If seated, adjust yourself (if necessary) so that you’re able to rotate through the torso with a strong core, but will also be able to return to the boxer’s position and combine this movement with the “Jab” for a combination.

2. Leading from the hips, as you rotate, extend your back fist in a punching motion forward from your chin while exhaling. Tighten your fist at the moment of actual or perceived contact.

3. While your fist is extending outwards, rotate your entire back arm so the punch lands with the palm of your fist facing down and your shoulder rotated up to cover your chin.

4. Don’t let your non-dominant hand drop. Make sure your other arm is guarding your chin during the whole movement.

5. Bring back your arm to ​its original position.


Mix It Up

Use music to help create a rhythm to complete the movements. Try these combinations or make your own!

  • Jab-Jab-Cross
  • Jab-Jab-Cross-Jack-Jack
  • Jab-Cross-Jab
  • Jab-Jack- Cross
  • Cross-Jab-Jab-Cross-Jab-Cross-Jack

Jumping Jacks  

1. Stand upright with your feet together or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.) and your arms at your side for good posture.

2. Slightly bend your knees and jump from the balls of your feet.

3. Hop/jump your legs outward, simultaneously bringing your arms from your waist to over your head.  ​If you are seated, you can solely focus on the upper body movement.

4. Return back to the start position to complete one repetition.

A sturdy core sets your body up for success. By stretching and strengthening this important muscle group, you can help improve your stability, balance, and movement, while reducing some of the typical degenerative changes that come with aging. And let’s be clear, a strong core doesn’t mean six-pack abs; it means being able to stand up, sit comfortably, ease rehabilitation of injuries, and do chores without experiencing pain.

So, how should you go about building core strength? Easy, find some open space—indoor or outdoor—and start small with some simple callisthenic exercises for your core.

Seated Side Tilt  

1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.)

2. Inhale and ​take your right hand and hold onto the side of the chair or bench

3. Extend your left arm upwards above your head, and slowly take it towards the right side as far as you can without feeling discomfort or pain, while you slowly tilt the chest and neck towards the right.

5. Exhale completely, return to starting position, and repeat on the other side.


Bicycle Crunches*  

1. Find yourself a comfortable position on the ground, inside or outside. Using a yoga mat or padding is optional but recommended.

2. Lay flat on your back before lifting your left leg slightly off the ground and extend it out.

3. Lift your right leg and bend your right knee towards your chest. As you do, twist through your core so the opposite elbow (in this case your left elbow) comes towards your knee.

4. Return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side.

​* Note, that you can also do these from a seated position.

  1. While seated, place your hands interlocked behind your head.
  2. Keeping your fingertips or knuckles behind your ears, take your right elbow and try to touch your left knee.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Starting the week with a few simple yoga poses can help people of all fitness levels improve their flexibility, balance, and strength, as well as clear their head and stay stress-free. This Monday, find a secluded bench or a quiet space, and try some seated yoga positions.

Cow pose  1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.).   2. Do your best to align your feet with your knees.   3. Place your hands on your knees, and sit upright.   4. Gently tilting your hips forward, keep the belly relaxed, lift the heart and chin slightly and draw shoulders down and back.  5. This pose strengthens the spine and helps improve posture.

Cow pose 

1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.).

2. Do your best to align your feet with your knees.

3. Place your hands on your knees, and sit upright.

4. Gently tilting your hips forward, keep the belly relaxed, lift the heart and chin slightly and draw shoulders down and back.

5. This pose strengthens the spine and helps improve posture.


Cat pose  1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.).   2. Do your best to align your feet with your knees.   3. Place your hands on your knees, and sit upright.   4. Allowing the hips to naturally tilt backward, gently draw your navel towards your spine, spread the shoulders away from each other, lastly tucking the chin to the chest.  5. This pose stretches the spine.Cat pose

1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.).

2. Do your best to align your feet with your knees.

3. Place your hands on your knees, and sit upright.

4. Allowing the hips to naturally tilt backward, gently draw your navel towards your spine, spread the shoulders away from each other, lastly tucking the chin to the chest.

5. This pose stretches the spine.


Side angle  1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.).   2. If possible, bend over, and place your right palm on the floor, outside your left foot.   3. Extend your left arm upwards, and turn your head to follow your left arm, so you’re looking at your left hand.   4. Take a moment to feel the stretch, then return to seated starting position.  5. Place your left palm on the floor, outside your right foot.  Extend your right arm up and follow it with your gaze to the right hand.    6. This pose improves the flexibility of your spine. Side angle 

1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.).

2. If possible, bend over, and place your right palm on the floor, outside your left foot.

3. Extend your left arm upwards, and turn your head to follow your left arm, so you’re looking at your left hand.

4. Take a moment to feel the stretch, then return to seated starting position.

5. Place your left palm on the floor, outside your right foot.  Extend your right arm up and follow it with your gaze to the right hand.

6. This pose improves the flexibility of your spine.

Strength training doesn’t require a gym. Workout in your local NYC Park using your own body weight or by turning every-day items into exercise equipment. We’ve got three easy exercises that you can do outdoors to give your upper body a boost.

Depending on fitness level, perform 12-15 reps of each exercise in succession for 3-5 sets. Rest 45-60 seconds between each set. In addition to a higher set range, create additional intensity by incorporating tempo into the mix.

Seated Shoulder Press

1. Find a park bench with proper back support or remain seated in your mobility device (i.e. wheelchair, scooter, etc.)

2. Sit with your feet flat on the ground or planted on your footrest, shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest up and core braced and tight.

3. Start with your hands raised to shoulder height like a “goal post.” Press them directly upwards until your arms are straight and above your head. Slowly lower your arms back to the start position under with control, pause, then start the next rep.


Tricep Extensions

1. Sit on a bench or remain seated in your mobility device (i.e. wheelchair, scooter, etc.) with feet flat on the ground or on your footrest, shoulder-width apart.

2. Hold your hands or weighted implement directly above your head.

3. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your hands or weight behind your head as you keep your biceps by your ears.

4. Return to the start position by pressing directly overhead by extending your arms and repeat.


Bicep Curls

1. Stand, if you are able or remain seated with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart, holding either a water bottles, shopping bags, or some other form of weighted resistance. Elbows should be resting at your sides.

2. Bring (curl) your hands up to your shoulders by bending at the elbows. Once at the top, hold for a second and squeeze the biceps.

3. Reverse the motion slowly back to the starting position and repeat.

Illustration of people exercising in a New York City park

Starting the week with a little physical activity is a surefire way to set yourself up for success. That’s why NYC Parks is teaming up with Move It Monday to help people of all ages and ability levels to find new, fun, and creative ways to get outdoors. Every Monday, check the NYC Parks social media channels to find out how you can get in some extra exercise in one of New York City’s 1,700 plus parks.

This week is all about finding the right park. Whether you’re into birding, hiking trails, running, exploring gardens, or visiting art in the parks, there’s sure to be a special NYC park that’s perfect for you.

Health and fitness information is designed for educational purposes only and may include risks. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional before engaging in health or exercise routines.