It’s time to get out and get moving.
For those reeling with the effects of cabin fever in the midst of COVID-19, there’s now some extra motivation to exercise outdoors and explore what the region has to offer in the way of parks and recreational amenities.
The Hillsborough County Parks & Recreation Department is encouraging people to get active this spring and summer via its inaugural “Move! Hillsborough” program.
The initiative, which launched April 1 and continues through July 31, motivates residents of all ages to get active by offering prizes for achieving exercise milestones.
Here’s how the challenge works: Participants register for free and log miles to show how they are moving throughout the county, be it walking, running, biking, kayaking, skipping or rollerblading.
Any type of activity counts toward the goal, so participants can rack up miles through all sorts of means, even with Zumba classes, dancing, playing basketball, pickleball, tennis, soccer and so on. The county’s parks team has a comprehensive conversion chart online letting participants know how to convert their desired activity to miles.
For example, logging 5,000 steps during a Zumba class translates to 2 miles, while rowing moderately for 15 minutes equates to 1 mile.
Participants will earn a prize at each milestone of 100 miles (keychain), 300 miles (bandana), and 500 miles (T-shirt). Reaching 500 miles makes you eligible for all three prizes.
Upon completing the challenge, bring your confirmation email (printed or digital) to one of the following locations to claim your prize in person: All Peoples Life Center in Tampa, Apollo Beach Recreation Center in Apollo Beach, Bell Creek Nature Preserve in Riverview, Carrollwood Village Park in Tampa or Westchase Recreation Center in Tampa.
Hillsborough’s parks and recreation coordinator Dana McDonald said Move! Hillsborough was brainstormed by county staffers as a means “to figure out new and inventive ways to get people out and active and moving in our parks,” particularly amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Any type of movement counts, and that, I think, is the great part about it, you know, everything you do counts towards miles,” said McDonald. “The parks and recreation department really wants people to be healthy. That’s one of our main goals, for people to be active and healthy, and this is just a fun way that we thought we could get people involved and reward them for things that we hope they’re already doing.”
And, there’s no shortage of places to go to get your fitness fix.
Out of the more than 150 county-run parks, there’s over two dozen neighborhood parks, preserves, recreation centers and athletic fields throughout The Laker/Lutz News coverage area, in Carrollwood, Lutz, New Tampa and Odessa.
Having trouble deciding where to start? McDonald recommends the 50-acre Carrollwood Village Park, which opened in 2018 at 4680 W. Village Drive in Tampa.
The park features a slew of family friendly amenities, including a challenge course, outdoor fitness equipment, paved trail, playground, skate park, splash pad, walking trails, pump track multiple dog parks, and more.
“It’s actually a regional-sized park, and it has everything, and you can pretty much do any kind of movement there,” said McDonald. “There is a lot that you can do and get a lot of movement, so…that would definitely be a great park to go and check out.”
She, too, recommended the Northdale Recreation Center, as it features outdoor fitness equipment and a walking trail, plus a variety of basketball, tennis and pickleball courts.
Also locally, Lake Park in Lutz is another solid option. “That’s great for your trails, and you can get a lot of miles there, for sure,” McDonald said.
Though checking out the county’s myriad parks is encouraged to achieve mileage milestones, McDonald noted participants may also register fitness points at home or in their local neighborhood, and still become eligible for prizes: “If you aren’t comfortable (going out) yet, and you have a treadmill at home and you want to do a treadmill or a bike, or you just want to walk around your neighborhood, those all count. If you do (workout) classes or videos, like Zumba, or you do basketball in your neighborhood, you can count those, too.”
Move! Hillsborough piggybacks off another one of the county’s popular outdoor fitness initiatives — the annual Hiking Spree, which typically runs from November through March, and garnered about 5,500 registrants in its fifth year.
Given the fact that Move! Hillsborough is a brand-new program, county officials are hoping for at least 1,000 registrants this year, McDonald said. “It takes some time for people to get excited about the program and get involved,” she said. “The nice thing is, because we’re coming off the Hiking Spree, a lot of people know about the Hiking Spree and are excited to participate (in Move! Hillsborough).”
In addition to residents, county parks and recreation employees at staffed recreation centers have also made a point to pursue the exercise challenge and see who can rack up the most miles, McDonald said. “Of course, there’s always that little bit of competition,” the parks administrator quipped. “You can’t have a group of people who are coaches who just don’t have that little bit of fun competition going around.”
For information and to register, visit HCFLGov.net/MoveHillsborough.
Hillsborough County park and recreation listings in and near The Laker/Lutz News coverage area
- Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature Preserve, 18101 Ramblewood Road, Odessa
- Calusa Trace Park, 18331 N. Calusa Blvd., Lutz
- Carolyn Meeker Dog Park and Nature Trail, 122 First Ave., S.W., Lutz
- Carrollwood Meadows Park, 13918 S. Farmington Blvd., Tampa
- Carrollwood Village Park, 4680 W. Village Drive, Tampa
- Cross Creek Park, 19205 Basset Creek Drive, Tampa
- Cypress Creek Nature Preserve, 18000 Lizard’s Tail Road, Tampa
- Keystone Park & Recreation Center, 19928 Gunn Highway, Odessa
- Lake Park, 17302 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz
- Lake Dan Nature Preserve, 19116 Huckavalle Road, Odessa
- Lake Frances Nature Preserve, 11009 Tarpon Springs Road, Odessa
- Lake Rogers Park, 9010 N. Mobley Road, Odessa
- Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa
- Live Oak Park, 9020 Imperial Oak Drive, Tampa
- Lutz Community Center, 98 First Ave. N.W., Lutz
- Mort Park, 1815 E. 148th Ave., Lutz
- North East Sports Complex, 18050 Kinnan St., Tampa
- Northdale Park & Recreation Center, 15550 Spring Pine Drive, Tampa
- Northlakes Sports Complex, 2640 N. Lakeview Drive, Tampa
- Northwest Equestrian Conversation Park, 10711 S. Mobley Road, Odessa
- Nye Park, 630 Sunset Lane, Lutz
- Oscar Cooler Sports Complex, 788 Lutz Lake Fern Road, Lutz
- Peterson Road Park, 8203 Peterson Road, Odessa
- Villa Rosa Park, 4600 Reflections Blvd., Lutz
- Violet Curry Preserve, 1802 Sinclair Hills Road, Lutz
Move! Hillsborough recommended activities
- Aerobic exercise
- Circuit training
- Cycling (stationary)
- Elliptical trainer
- Horseback riding
- Jump rope
- Line dancing
- Pilates/yoga/tai chi
- Spinning class
- Table tennis
- Water skiing
- Water aerobics
- Weight training/High-intensity interval training classes
Published April 14, 2021