MUSC News Center
Adventure Out hits the streets of Charleston in May
By Dawn Brazell | News Center | April 23, 2014
|Zumba instructors Rob Powell and Katie Williams get the crowd excited at a Latin dance class at last year's Adventure Out pilot.|
Getting fitter can be as easy as stepping outside to your favorite park.
At least that’s what the sponsors of the second annual Adventure Out program want participants to find out this May. The outdoor activity campaign, hosted by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the MUSC Wellness Center and the city of Charleston Recreation Department and City Parks, will feature more than 25 fitness events held in city of Charleston parks and the MUSC Wellness Center to get more people outside and moving.
In its second year, the Adventure Out program offers a wide range of activities, including Latin dance, sunrise yoga, boot camp led by active-duty Marines and a special “Selfie Historic Scavenger” hunt that goes through interesting downtown Charleston locations. The opening event will be held May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hampton Park and features a Zumba class and children’s fitness activities.
Susan Johnson, Ph.D., director of MUSC’s Office of Health Promotion, said sticking to an exercise plan long-term is hard. “Most of us need periodic motivation to keep us on track. By offering a month-long fitness campaign annually, it allows us to get our community motivated to exercise and try new things.”
Partnering with community organizations and tying into outside resources expands MUSC’s outreach into the community and supports its mission to help more people get outdoors during May to enjoy the area’s natural resources while improving their health, she said. The fitness events will be showcased in Charleston’s beautiful parks, with Adventure Out adding to the momentum of the city’s Lighten Up Charleston program. The program, launched as an initiative of Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley in 2012, provides an interactive website, www.lightenupcharleston.org, to promote community fitness and recreation programs and allow residents to track their wellness goals and learn ways to lose weight.
“Mayor Riley is committed to promoting health and wellness through his Lighten Up Charleston program, so this was a perfect fit from his perspective,” Johnson said.
Barbara Vaughn, director of media relations for the city, agreed, adding that encouraging use of the parks’ open spaces enhances the well-being of the community.
A Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness Lean Team study at MUSC found that 43 percent of student participants in the Charleston County School District were either overweight or obese and 67 percent of adults and 70 percent of teachers enrolled in the study also were found to be overweight or obese – a notable finding, as children depend on parents and teachers to be role models.
Janis Newton, interim director of the MUSC Wellness Center, said programs such as Adventure Out help create a culture of wellness in a community, facilitating healthy changes by making it easier to get outdoors and active, a goal the center supports. Wellness Center fitness instructors will be volunteering their time to lead the classes. See the May 2014 calendar of events for class descriptions.
“We’re dedicated to getting people moving who don’t normally move. With Adventure Out, we figure out safe, fun ways to get more active. All they have to do is show up. It’s going to be adapted to their fitness levels, and it’s all organized for them. ”
Best of all, the events are in beautiful, green spaces. Green exercise is a new fitness trend, probably here to stay, given research showing its health benefits, Newton said. “It has a calming effect and it can reduce stress. There’s a self-discovery and mindfulness aspect about green exercise.”
A wide variety of events are planned based on feedback from last year’s participants, many of whom discovered new activities they had never tried before, Newton said. “The older we get, we have our comfort zones, and it’s harder to get outside of the box. We’re less adventuresome. We get more set in our ways. We have to find things that will spark people to move more.”
“It is never too late to start making a difference in your life. The more exposure to different exercises that you have, the better the chance of finding that one that you love. I have tried tons of different exercises, and I have learned that I can’t ‘Zumba,’ not that I don’t like it, I just couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. I never thought yoga or Pilates was for me until my friend made me try it with her, and now I’m hooked. It’s all about finding that one thing that makes you excited to lace up your sneakers or take them off.”
Adventure Out T-shirts can be purchased at multiple locations and at the program’s launch May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hampton Park. Pickup locations include: MUSC Office of Health Promotion – 17 Ehrhardt St., Suite 5 (call 843-792-9536 for pickup times) and the MUSC Wellness Center – 45 Courtenay Drive, main membership desk, 843-792-5757.