Perhaps one of our favorite pastimes as a child was going to the neighborhood playground. And even now, you may still spend some time at a playground with your children and grandchildren. Nothing can quite beat reliving your childhood memories at the park, but what if there was a park designed just for older adults? This may seem like a far-fetched idea now, but this could be a reality in the next few years!
Regaining Your Youth
Playgrounds that are specifically designed for seniors first began in Europe and Asia, and now they are finally making their way to the United States.
So what can you expect to see at these playgrounds for seniors? Low-impact exercise equipment including static bikes, elliptical machines, body flexors and other equipment that promotes one’s balance and flexibility are commonly found in these kinds of playgrounds. According to the director of the Boyd Esler Senior and Community Center in Ohio Bobby Dinkins, “The idea behind the equipment is to get seniors to stay active and to prevent them from falling. Improving balance is important because a fall can be physically and emotionally devastating for seniors.”
Already, the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! has built 53 of these multigenerational playgrounds across the country, serving 61,500 seniors and 135,471 children.
While these kinds of playgrounds in Europe and Asia are designed solely for seniors, it seems that these playgrounds being built in the United States are multigenerational, allowing both seniors and their children or grandchildren to be active while enjoying quality time together.
Improving Fitness, Promoting Socialization
Besides providing seniors with a fun and creative way to exercise, these innovative playgrounds for seniors also come with some other benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that it provides seniors with a different way to socialize with others.
A recent study revealed that social isolation and loneliness in seniors may be just as deadly as drinking too much alcohol or smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day, emphasizing the importance of nurturing social and mental health in seniors.
These playgrounds have become a great gathering spot for both the young and the old – after all, who doesn’t enjoy a nice, relaxing day in the park? The one drawback is that these playgrounds are not yet available in all parts of the country. 53 have been built and at least 16 more are in the process of being built, but it may be a few years more until these kinds of playgrounds are available to all.
But in the meantime, there are some other ways you can socialize while exercising. Below are the best group exercise classes for seniors:
- Balance Exercises: Similar to the low-impact exercise equipment found at playgrounds for seniors, balance exercises greatly reduce the risk of experiencing a fall.
- Swimming: Perhaps one reason why swimming has become such a popular exercise among seniors is that it is easier on your joints than other exercises you can do on land.
- Walking: It’s important to remember that you don’t have to join a gym class to experience the health benefits of socializing while exercising! Walking around the mall is one of the easiest ways for seniors to exercise together as a group, and the best part is that you never have to worry about the weather affecting your walking path.