Physical restrictions, aches and pains, and exhaustion are all too common complaints when discussing the challenges regarding exercise for seniors. Many prescribed exercises for seniors are low-impact activities that ward off further irritation of deteriorating joints and muscles, but it’s safe to say that these exercises don’t provide much in the way of fun.
However, certain cities have tapped into a new idea that helps seniors reach their daily step counts, up their cardio, and increase movement in their limbs: adult playgrounds! These multigenerational play spaces communicate that exercise for seniors no longer needs to be one dimensional.
Here are the things we can learn from these outdoor play spaces:
It’s Time to Give Up on Tired Exercise Routines
Adult playgrounds feature low-impact equipment – ellipticals, stationary bikes, resistance training – that improves coordination and flexibility in seniors. The results of using these fun fitness alternatives are overwhelmingly positive, including an increased resilience against dementia, improved balance and speed, and fostering a sense of belonging. Whether you have an adult playground or child centric playground around, you can bring your own resistance bands and find a surface to use for stepping to reap the benefits, either way.
Differing Generations Can Positively Impact Each Other
Children benefit from the addition of low-tech equipment to their playgrounds, as their negative perceptions of growing old tend to decrease. Seniors can also profit from the visible energy that children at play elicit, contributing to greater motivation and positive moods. Choose a child-filled playground to practice stretching near or walk laps around and make a point of enjoying the laughter and energy of the children playing.
It’s Possible (& Positive) to Leave the Nest
While encouraging seniors to take in the fresh air and socialize with others in their community, seniors can improve their health and happiness through endorphins and fending off loneliness.
These outdoor interactions alone contribute to an increase in mental well-being. Need a break between laps or leg lifts? Seniors can strike up conversation with bench-sitting parents – often they are starved for adult conversation if their days are filled with toddlers.
Having Fun Can Help You Live Longer
Since having fun in old age has been linked to a longer life, we hope to see more adult playgrounds being built across the nation, and as a result, more seniors taking to these public spaces to get in their exercise. While there are currently many go-to’s for seniors to move and enjoy the outdoors, nothing is quite as innovative, uplifting, and well-rounded as indulging in colourful play structures surrounded by the laughter of innocent children.
Enjoy the playgrounds you have and watch out for adult playgrounds that may soon pop up, making exercise for seniors not only entertaining and free, but freeing. If your community does not provide an accessible playground to its aging residents, we encourage you to advocate for its implementation.
Let us know your thoughts and whether or not you’d like to see more multigenerational play spaces built in your neighbourhood.