I know what you might be thinking, unless you are accompanying children to the park, the days of playing in the playground are long gone. That is until now; a new trend has adults and seniors enjoying some exercise in parks designed for them. Let’s face it – everyone, of all ages, likes to have good time! These new playgrounds are allowing older individuals to revisit the fun of playing, and all of the benefits associated with it.
What is an Adult Playground?
So what exactly are these adult playgrounds, and what do they consist of? Well it’s more than just swings and slides.
Low impact exercise equipment:
Think gym machine meets typical playground gear. Items such as stationary bikes, elliptical machines, side-to-side swings, arm pedals, and steps are all included in the possibilities. The purpose of the equipment is to allow older individuals to workout outdoors for a healthier body and mind, and an overall better quality of life. It is designed for easy use, and does not require a high level of fitness.
How is an adult playground different from your local gym?
If these playgrounds sound more like outdoor gyms, you may be wondering: how does it really differ from simply going and joining a gym? Well the biggest bonus is that it is free; this makes it a wonderful option for just about everybody. Gyms can be costly and often require a committal membership where you lock in to pay for their services for a certain period of time. Over time this can get expensive, and for those who only like to exercise a couple times a week, it may not be worth the price. Besides, visiting the gym can feel like a chore – especially on those nice sunny days.
Games and Activities
Playgrounds for adults and seniors are outdoors and let you enjoy the fresh air and scenery. Some even include games like horseshoes or bocce ball; and when they are organized along walking paths, you can enjoy them as part of your stroll. Others are constructed alongside playgrounds designed for children, this way there is the opportunity for older individuals to enjoy exercise as well. No more sitting on the bench while the kids play – you can have fun too!
It's a great way for children to view their parents, grandparents, and other adults being active and living a healthy lifestyle – a fantastic example for them. Parents love parks because it burns their children’s energy while they have fun. The same goes for adult and senior playgrounds, you’ll be having fun with the added bonus of exercise that doesn’t feel like work.
The Benefits of Exercise with Age:
Adult and senior playgrounds make incorporating physical activity into your life more fun, and there are plenty of benefits when it comes to exercise. There are mainly two different benefits – those being physical well being and psychological well being.
In terms of physical well being, studies note that regular physical activity in adults reduces the risk of many different diseases:
Type II diabetes mellitus:
High blood sugar and insulin resistance, which puts individuals at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The primary cause is obesity and lack of exercise.
Improves Social Interactions
Adult and senior playgrounds serve as a place to gather, meet new people, exercise, reduce stress, and genuinely enjoy your time. Exercise, fresh air, and sunshine can all naturally help improve your mental health, and increase your performance in daily life. The playground is a fantastic place to benefit from all three!
In case you wanted to know...
Growing popularity of adult playgrounds:
While adult and senior playgrounds are relatively new here in the United States, the idea first spread throughout some other countries – Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, and China to name a few. This is quite fitting as some of these countries are among those with the highest percentage of an older population. The playgrounds were very successful; Barcelona alone has 300 parks! The United States is far lower in the ranks when it comes to an aging population, but those aged 65+ still represent approximately one in every seven Americans. This number will only increase in the future, as the first of the baby boomers hit the age of 65 in 2011. Fiscally, these playgrounds make sense for an aging population. When you encourage individuals to lead healthy and active lives by providing opportunities to do so, you decrease the potential for healthcare costs.
Who is creating adult playgrounds?:
A non-profit organization called KaBOOM! has already created approximately fifty-three playgrounds throughout the United States. During a Huffington Post interview with a Director from the organization, it was mentioned that there was a playground created in Cleveland and this lead to the creation of a fitness club for seniors that followed. This just goes to show how beneficial an adult and senior playground can be in a community. Once the equipment is available, other programs and groups can be created to encourage usage and socialization.
There are a few different companies that create and construct playground equipment designed for adults and seniors. A few examples of those brands are: GameTime based in Alabama, Playworld in Pennsylvania, and TriActive America in California. When you take a look at what the companies offer, you can see that there is a large variety of equipment to equip the playgrounds. The equipment is straightforward and looks fun to use, the kids will be jealous!
Where to find an adult playgrounds:
If you would like to take a look at some of the playgrounds, or perhaps visit one if it is nearby, there are some places where they are available: Miami, St. Petersburg, Harrisburg, NYC, Mobile, Cleveland, Greensboro, Seattle, Jackson, Cedar Rapids, Kansas City, New Orleans, Riverside, Fort Worth, Houston, Tulsa, Nashville, Tucson, and San Antonio to list a few.
The bottom line is that exercise is very important to your life and your well-being. Spending a few hours a week to focus on your health on a regular basis can really prolong your life by years in the end, which sounds worth the effort. Adult and senior playgrounds are a terrific new trend to support a healthy lifestyle, and will hopefully become available in every state. If you have one near you, check it out! If not, keep a lookout, one might be on its way!