Problem Solver - August 2013
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Improve Fitness With Play

With obesity continuing to rise and negatively impact people's health, many communities are looking for ways to address the problem. Getting kids and adults alike outside and active is a smart way to start improving health statistics. But motivating people to be more active can be a challenge. Many parks are creating innovative fitness environments suitable for the whole family.

Q: We are concerned about the dramatic increases in obesity among children. How can play help address the problem?

A: Everyone knows that exercise benefits people of all ages, including children. From better coordination to increased strength, healthier hearts and even just a sense of well-being, getting active can do wonders.

For the best health, children should get involved in outdoor play on a daily basis. Playing outside can help improve children's physical, emotional and mental health. It's good medicine disguised as fun!

You can encourage kids to get outside and active by providing play spaces that are designed to keep them engaged and moving—and that will keep them excited to come back for more.

Q: What kinds of playgrounds help encourage children to be more active?

A: Innovative playground equipment will not leave children standing in line or waiting to play. They'll be able to keep on moving, using their whole body to climb, run, slide, jump and more.

Playsystems without prescribed entry and exit points enable children to get both a physical and a mental workout. And without platforms and stairs, these play components are completely accessible from the ground. They feature climbing cables that push kids to use their upper bodies and their imaginations. And with a large number of components, the possible configurations are limitless.

Q: We love to see children active at the playground, but worry about families, older adults and other visitors to our park. Is there a way to motivate people of all ages to get more active?

A: Parks can provide myriad ways for people to get active. You can give the entire family a chance to move their bodies and improve their health with an outdoor fitness system.

Designed for beginner, intermediate and advanced users, as well as those with special fitness needs, an outdoor fitness system can provide cardiovascular exercise and strength training as well as improving endurance and flexibility.

Fitness stations provide clear signage and graphics to instruct users on the motions required to complete the activity. Users are shown how to start and finish, and how to perform the exercise correctly. The stations offer progressive levels of difficulty, which the user controls.

Such fitness amenities provide your park visitors with a unique and exciting way to challenge themselves and improve their fitness over time. What's more, they'll be able to combine these activities with the experience of being in the great outdoors—providing even more health benefits.

Q: We'd love to add outdoor fitness equipment to our park. Where is the best place to install such equipment?

A: There are a number of ways you can install your fitness equipment to help motivate park visitors to use it. Many parks install fitness stations along walking trails or in clusters throughout the park to provide visitors a chance to get in a good circuit workout. Others place the fitness stations near playgrounds so busy caregivers can boost their activity level while keeping an eye on their children "exercising" on the play equipment.


Landscape Structures Inc.