Gone are the days when senior citizens sat around the park feeding the birds or reading the paper. Now, they are getting active in ways that may seem downright juvenile.
We all know that physical activity on a daily basis is important to staying fit and healthy, no matter what age you are—and that it's more important the older you get. While some senior citizens belong to fitness facilities or health care clubs, those can be costly, especially on a month-to-month basis. A few years ago, some European countries started developing playgrounds for senior citizens - public parks that feature workout-like machines for seniors to utilize in order to exercise their bodies. Now the trend has come to the United States, with playgrounds for seniors are appearing around the country.
- How did this trend begin? Senior playgrounds, also referred to as outdoor fitness parks, originated in China after a law was established that mandated fitness be accessible to people of all ages. The idea has since spread to the European continent, where more than half of the population will be over the age of 65 by the year 2050. Barcelona, a leader in senior playground installments, is now home to over 300 senior fitness centers.
- What exactly is a senior playground? Senior playgrounds are similar to parks, but they feature physical fitness equipment that is accessible to seniors. Stationary bicycles, striders, leg presses, and various dexterity games are just a few of the inclusions these types of parks have. You'll also find the traditional park features, like walking paths, with special accents like ramps to make them easier for the elderly, as well as plenty of shaded seating areas so that they can stay outside for longer periods of time.
- What are the benefits of a senior playground? Finding the energy, time, or space to complete outdoor activities can be challenging depending on where you live and your physical ability. So seniors need a good reason to participate. Here are three:
They are fun: Senior playgrounds are a great way for seniors to get out and meet new people. They are gathering place for the elderly to be active together—probably laughing—as well as a destination to take the grandkids!
They improve your overall health: Installations at senior playgrounds may also help improve other health aspects like balance, muscle strength and tone, range of motion, and overall dexterity. Improving all of these physical aspects ultimately help seniors to live more healthy and fulfilled lives by limiting the risk of common accidents, like slipping and falling.
They are free: Money is of a particular importance to senior citizens, as medication and other care costs continue to rise. On a similar note, these free parks
It is widely known that physical fitness can help improve your overall mood and outlook on life. If you or someone you know is of an elderly age, search for local senior parks in your area. They are great for the whole family to enjoy, and inspire people of all ages to stay physically active and fit. For more information on local parks that were designed with seniors in mind, reach out to your community center or parks and recreation office.
About the Author: Lauren is a copywriter for River Ridge Living Center, a sub-acute rehabilitation center in Amsterdam, New York.