Adventure Out

What: Adventure Out will feature more than 25 fitness activities, such as sunrise yoga, family games, climbing, Zumba and trail running

When: It launches 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday on the MUSC North Garden behind Drug Discovery and next to the Urban Farm. The kickoff is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at James Island County Park’s Wappoo Pavilion and Stage.

Where: MUSC and James Island, Palmetto Islands, Wannamaker, Isle of Palms and Folly Pier county parks.

Cost: $10 gets participants an Adventure Out T-shirt, which will get free access to the parks to participate in the exercise class or event.

More info: For a schedule of events and locations, go to http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/adventureout.

One of the newest terms creating a buzz in the fitness world actually describes something quite old.

“Green exercise,” or simply exercising outside, is starting to be recognized for its benefits beyond just burning calories. Studies, published in “Environmental Science & Technology” in 2010 and 2011, reviewed other studies and found that exercising outside — surprise, surprise — trumps indoor exercise for stress management, improved self-esteem and mood, increased frequency of exercise and improved sense of well-being.

As an avid “green exerciser” who has been pushing “Get Out” activities in the Charleston area for the past five years, I’m glad that some are recognizing the difference. I still marvel at how people can run on a treadmill or take a Spinning class in a quasi-dark room on a gorgeous spring day. Now that’s Insanity!

Adventure Out

When I first heard about an exciting collaboration among the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and its nonprofit arm, the Parklands Foundation of Charleston, to host an outdoor fitness campaign, I was stoked.

Adventure Out kicks off this week and runs during May. Instructors from the MUSC Wellness Center will fan out to parks in the PRC system to hold an array of activities, such as sunrise yoga, beach bootcamps, trail runs, Zumba and several exercise classes usually associated with the great indoors.

The effort originated with conversations among Angus Long, executive director of Parklands; MUSC President Ray Greenberg; and Susan Johnson, MUSC’s director of health promotion, on ways to offer more health and wellness programs to the community.

Johnson, who has been a driving force behind several initiatives, including the MUSC Urban Farm, knew about the studies on green exercise and the “Exercise is Medicine” program, in which doctors actually prescribe exercise to patients.

Ultimately, it could be a year-round program that is medically based, monitored and recorded, fitness and exercise opportunities.

But that’s down the road.

Not there yet

For now, Adventure Out is a pilot program with a lot of potential, and organizers are looking at another outdoor-friendly month in the Lowcountry, October, for its second set of programs.

This coming month, fitness instructors at MUSC Wellness Center will lead more than 25 offerings, including aqua, Zumba dance, yoga and martial arts sessions with the theme of “Turn(ing) Over a New Leaf.”

And here’s the cool deal: Buy an Adventure Out T-shirt for $10 and it serves as your pass for the month. Wear the T-shirt and you will get in the parks and the classes for free. That’s frankly the best deal I’ve heard of for structured exercise programming, perhaps ever.

Kickoffs

Adventure Out has two kickoff events.

The launch will be 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at MUSC North Garden behind Drug Discovery and next to the Urban Farm and will feature a climbing wall, fitness class “mini sessions” and food trucks.

The official kickoff will feature an Adventure Out Family Fitness Day to be held 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Wappoo Pavilion and Stage of James Island County Park. It will include Zumba, family-oriented fitness games, jump castles and food trucks.

From passive to active

Part of the effort is to change the perception of the county parks are only for passive uses such as for picnics to active places where you can get some serious exercise.

PRC Executive Director Tom O’Rourke says Adventure Out is a “kickstart of an initiative that is intended to have people see their parks as a health and wellness resource.”

“The partnership between CCPRC — The Parklands Foundation — and MUSC, we think, prove to us that we all can work together for the bigger goal of a healthier Charleston County,” O’Rourke says. “The Adventure Out collaboration will enable us to learn many things that will assist in the development of something much bigger, with more partners and for the benefit of all citizens.

“When you have resources like Dr. Susan Johnson and the MUSC Wellness staff, it is a natural fit for us to utilize the expertise that already exists in the community. They have been great to work with,” O’Rourke says. “This collaboration is merely a start. It is important to all of us to keep this going.”

Reach David Quick at dquick@postandcourier.com.