Move It Monday with NYC Parks

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

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.

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.

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.

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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.