Boost Physical & Mental Health
With the coronavirus pandemic driving uncertainty and anxiety, it is more important than ever to focus on ways to keep kids, teens and adults healthy, both physically and mentally. There is no doubt that time spent outside is beneficial for all, and we need to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get active and stay healthy.
Q: What should we know about play and health?
A: While it can be difficult to find the time for free play in our always-on world, research has shown that taking the time and making the space for outdoor play and activity is worthwhile. Playtime for children gives them a chance to be in control and use their imaginations while developing important physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills.
Teens and adults benefit from free time outdoors as well. Exercise outside leads to better health, and can also contribute to increased energy, and reduced anger, tension and depression.
Q: What can we do to help kids engage in healthy outdoor activity?
A: As you begin or continue to reopen facilities more broadly, it's important to provide the outdoor amenities that help keep people healthy.
Start with playgrounds, which provide a healthy outlet for kids. Beyond the traditional post-and-platform structures, you can find a range of innovative and affordable play experiences. How about a play structure that re-creates the feeling of exploring a forest canopy with wiggly bridges, slides and more?
If you're not ready to add a whole new playground, you might consider adding new, unique freestanding play components to enliven your existing playground. Spinners, bouncers and spring riders have the added benefit of enabling visitors to more easily adhere to social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Q: Is there a way to encourage fitness for all ages in our parks?
A: Extreme fitness has become increasingly popular due to current TV shows. Consider installing an extreme obstacle course to encourage kids, teens and adults to emulate this action and get fit. Extreme obstacle courses can be designed for varying age groups—teens and adults, or kids ages 5 to 12—and bring exciting fitness challenges to parks, schools and more.
For 5- to 12-year-olds, obstacle courses can provide just the right degree of challenge to help them build physical and mental agility. For teens and adults, such courses can encourage some fun and friendly competition.
Predesigned courses are available, or you can create a customized course that provides upper- and lower-body challenges, as well as boosting coordination and problem-solving skills.
Traditional outdoor fitness equipment is also a good way to boost fitness for teens and adults in your park. Look for equipment that provides a range of exercises to boost strength, cardiovascular health, and balance and flexibility.
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