No matter how old we are, it’s important that we take the steps to make sure we maintain and manage our own health and well-being.  Focusing on physical, social and mental health need to be balanced in order to achieve total health.

Getting regular physical activity helps us maintain muscular strength, a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. It also helps boost immunity. And there’s a mental aspect, too, says Lauren Dlugosz, Health & Wellness Program Manager at Independent Health.

“Physical activity impacts more than your physical health,” she says. “It also has a positive impact on your mental health. Physical activity not only produces those feel-good hormones that boost our mood, but exercise also affects regions in the brain that control cognitive function and memory. Since exercise acts as a natural anti-depressant, it can reduce our stress levels and lift our spirits.”

One way to get physical activity is to join a Fitness in the Parks class. 

Independent Health is once again teaming up with the YMCA Buffalo Niagara for the 12th season of free fitness classes from June 1 through August 31 at 26 different parks across Western New York, from Lewiston to Jamestown, including: 

  • Delaware Park
  • Chestnut Ridge Park
  • Wilkeson Pointe at Outer Harbor
  • Larkin Square
  • The Buffalo Bills ADPRO Sports Training Center
  • NEW for 2023: Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo and Outwater Park in Lockport.

“Fitness in the Parks is the largest and longest running outdoor fitness program in Western New York. More than 8,000 people participated last year. It’s the perfect way for the entire community to burn some calories while enjoying the beautiful weather.”

Lauren Dlugosz, Health & Wellness Program Manager, Independent Health

Classes scheduled every day of the week

People of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to attend the classes, which are led by YMCA-certified instructors. Among the 16 different class styles offered this year are:

  • NEW FOR 2023! Beginners’ Qigong – This class focuses on an ancient Chinese system of postures, exercises, breathing techniques and meditations. Qigong is a gentle form of exercise that can help improve overall health and well-being.
  • Boot Camp – A challenging yet enjoyable workout that focuses on speed, endurance, agility, strength, power moves and cardiovascular training.
  • Pilates (mat required) – Strengthen the body’s core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back, with this method of body conditioning. You’ll tone your body and increase flexibility.
  • Yoga (mat required) – Enjoy gentle, effective postures that promote stretching, strengthening and relaxation. Benefits include increased blood circulation, improved mental awareness, strengthened muscles and reduced stress.
  • Zumba® – This class feature exotic rhythms set to high-energy Latin and international beats.

For the first time, we will also be offering Kickboxing Boot Camp and Kids Yoga and Storytime. Plus, there will be a Walking Club for people to join.

No advanced sign-up is required. Participants can simply show up to the location of their choice at the day and time listed on the class schedule.

To view the full schedule, park locations and class descriptions, visit our website. Day-of cancellations, due to rain or poor weather, will be listed on the YMCA Buffalo Niagara and Jamestown YMCA Facebook pages.