How do you let your inner child out? In parks around the country and the world adults of all ages and fitness abilities can “play” on uniquely designed equipment and address physical impairments and/or age related issues such as muscle stiffness or atrophy, arthritis, or osteoporosis in an outdoor setting.
Our ancestors have existed in the natural world for thousands of years. Research from a recent study in the Journal of Extreme Physiology and Medicine shows how the primitive portion of our brains positively responds to the out-of-doors, with health indicators like lowered blood pressure, heart rates and cortisol levels (measurement of stress) noted. People perceive their physical exertion to be significantly less when outdoors than when they are working out in a gym. These benefits offer good reasons to get outside and workout, especially in our sedentary indoor oriented world. If you need yet another reason to consider this activity is financial: outdoor gyms are completely free.
Although more research is still to be done, countries like China and parts of Europe have had adult playgrounds for quite some time as a means of helping the elderly develop and maintain better fitness routines to aid the aging process. In the U.S. states like Washington, Florida, Texas, California and New York have also signed on to this play revolution.
Water giant corporation Evian is participating in the trend as well. In January 2013, the company placed special playground equipment in two locations in London as part of their “31 Ways to Live Young” campaign. The more force participants exerted while pumping on swings and seesaws, the more they could make snow fall. People responded overwhelmingly positive to the concept, with both users and passers seen smiling and laughing at the pleasure amidst the usual dreary British winter.
TriActive America (www.triactiveamerica.com) is a company out of California specializing in equipment for outdoor use. Founded in 2002, TriActive America sells directly to schools, college campuses, municipal parks and residential communities, offering both custom as well as do-it-yourself installation. Co-director of Sales, Bruce Carson, says a new 15-piece playground near Yankee Stadium in New York was recently built over a parking garage and combines multipurposing the space with vertical design, two elements particularly useful in urban planning. Due to its success, New York is planning for nine more playgrounds in the coming year. Once installed, this type of equipment needs little maintenance—it is built to withstand the elements, extreme usage and requires no electricity. Steel rods replace cables and people’s own body weight provides the resistance.
Check out your neighborhood playground again. You never know what you may find—perhaps a new outlet for tightening up your abs, biceps and thighs and a return to your lost childhood lightness! To your health!
Photo courtesy of TriActive America.