Senior Playgrounds Offer New Exercise Options

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Who says that playgrounds should be just for kids? London's Hyde Park area is set to open a new outdoor playground specifically geared toward older adults. The equipment will be designed to improve balance, flexibility and strength through low impact activities. Could you see a demand for something like this in your area?

The "Hyde Park Senior Playground" will target older adults but will be open to anyone who wants to use the equipment. It will have six stations, including a stationary bike and cross-trainer. Manchester's Dam Head Park (also in Britain) opened an over-60 playground two years ago. It's become a popular destination for seniors year-round. These types of facilities are already popular throughout Europe and Asia.

Regular exercise is important at any age. But exercise becomes more important as we age for a number of reasons. Physically active seniors are more likely to keep their independence, since balance, flexibility and overall health problems are less likely. Regular exercise also helps prevent muscle and bone loss as we get older.

In addition to the physical benefits of activity, many seniors enjoy the social connections they develop from exercising with others. Playgrounds could help provide those social connections and a way to improve health at the same time. They also offer a good alternative when joining a gym isn't an option for financial reasons or because they aren't a comfortable setting.

If you're a senior who's just starting to exercise, SparkPeople has a number of resources to get you started, including What You Need To Know About Exercise After 60 and the Senior Health Lifestyle Center.

Have you ever heard of playgrounds for older adults? Do you have any in your area? What do you think of the idea?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


My neighborhood parks are not safe (unless you can outrun bad guys) so I sadly have to stick to the gym. It used to be great to be outdoors and breathe calmly, but the calm breathing is not possible when there are predators and perverts around. Report
Great idea, next time I am in London - early September I will check it out, and also check out one near my son in Richmond Surrey. Can we have more of these worldwide please, its not just the little kids that need play parks. Report
It's indoors,(it has to be in Michigan!) , but wehave Tanglewood Park, which is a senior activity center & it also has a restaurant, & other senior services. They have gym equipment, aerobics classes, & other fun things to do.. I have not been there yet, but know several people who have. Report
What a great idea! Why should kids get to play but adults have to WORKout?

And wouldn't adult summer camp be fun? :) Report
As a senior citizen, I would love this! It is so hard to be with youngsters!!! Report
I have not heard of Adult Playground--only fitness trails that have chinup bars which I can never reach. I would like to see something better in my neighborhood.

we have a local fantastic kids playground surrounded by 12 pieces of adult gym equipment...bikes, weights, rowers, steppers etc..parents can get fit while the kids fresh air... Report
With the obesity crisis we should have parks everywhere!! Report
I have heard of adult day care but never adult playgrounds. I think it would be an asset, I really don't want to join a gym. it's inside and I like to do the outside things. Report
I would feel much more comfortable in a Senior Playground than in a the fresh air would do me good. This is a wonderful concept that should become popular in the States...but who would pay to build and maintain these places?! Report
This is a great idea. My mom would LOVE it. Report
I love this idea! I wish we had them here! Report
good idea! Report
The city is planning a new Park near my home. I am going to contact them and let them know about this idea. I think it's wonderful. Report
Would like to see the senior activities integrated into the main areas, not separate. Also, did notice The Spark book pictures were of mostly young sparkers, when the site has many middle-aged and older members who also need suppport and encouragement. Report
what an awesome idea!!! we all need that !!! Report
Sounds like a great idea - especially for those seniors who can't afford or don't wish to attend a wellness/fitness center. Also, as I am getting nearer to the "senior" age it appeals to me. But being from Minnesota it would probably have to be just a 3-season thing. Report
I guess I need to do some searching to see what other types of outdoor fitness equipment are available specifically designed for seniors... Would need more information if I were going to suggest something like this to our Parks and Recreation board. Report
To answer number 77 from China, I don't know what you have heard about The United States, but most of our 70' year olds are Not in Nursing Homes. Many of us are hard working. I have worked in Nursing Homes and most of the residents were in their 90's to 100's Report
I looked at the pictures on the NPR site, and it looks great! I've seen lots of fitness trails in different towns, which seem like a similar idea, but the equipment in those pictures made it look more fun than the trails I've seen. Report
excellent suggestions
We had one in my college town (which was made up of mostly undergrads and retirees), and but I seldom if ever saw it being used. I think people are too self-conscious to admit out in the open that they need to work out, and would rather do it on a play structure than in a gym. Report
I think this is a great idea. I would love to have one of these near me. Report
Great idea! How come Europe & Asia are so far ahead of us in this respect? Report
Yep fabl Idea but won't work in Soth Africa unless it is fenced off and you have to use a membership card to get in. Here it would not last a week if not supervised the equipment would either be stolen or damaged beyond repair. Report
I'd love to have one in my neighborhood! Report
This is a great idea. A playground the entire family can enjoy. Report
Fantastic idea. I would love to see them developed in New Zealand or at least have our local councils add a few more pieces of exercise equipment suitable for seniors to the exisiting parks. We have wonderful places to walk and need more places for strength training exercises that are free of charge as most gyms are out of retires price range. Report
I wonder what it would take to get something like this set up? I'm sure we could get equipment donated. Report
Good idea! Would love to see this take off in our area. Report
I love to play. I'm adding this as a place to go when I visit an "old" freind in London soon! Report
We ALL need playgrounds, yes? I totally think so!
Jocelyn Report
What a great idea!! Report
I think it's brilliant. I like the idea of equipment geared towards seniors... low impact, strengthening, safe stretching. I agree that Baby Boomers are the force that can get this happening. Report
maybe we should just use the playgrounds that the children aren't playing in - seems like they are inside watching tv and playing video games more than enjoying the outdoors - I like to swing and slide and climb the monkey bars! Report
I've never heard of a Senior Playground, but I love the idea. I'm so jealous of the kids with their slides, swings, and monkey bars. My only concern is vandalism from the teens. Report
Sounds like a good idea. Maybe Chris can "Spark" the idea in the U.S. I do wish SparkPeople had more exercises/DVD's/workouts for those of us who can't get up and down from a mat and have physical limitations now that limit motions that were easy when we were younger and more flexible. I need help! Report
I've never heard of this but what a wonderful idea. Hope it catches on here in the states. Report
I live in China, and every apartment complex and park has one of these. Everyday when I go to work, I see older people exercising. I would imagine that's why I see 70 year olds here chasing and carrying grandchildren, hauling home huge sacks of rice from the market, and scrubbing the stairway floors when their American contemporaries are in nursing homes. Report
good to know . . . this way the kids don't have all the fun - lol . . . in my area, there are a group of elders who use the playground nearby very early in the a.m. to do tai chi - i'm thinking of joining them, but i like this idea also. Report
I've never heard of a Senior Playground, but I think it's an EXCELLENT idea! Why are these not more common? There are so many benefits to this idea, physical fitness only being the tip of the iceberg. Think about what it would do for the social lives of the seniors who go to use the equipment, helping to eliminate the blues that many lonely seniors feel. And they would also help serve as a good example to young folks, letting them see that health and fitness knows no age. I'm excited about this idea, and it's not even in my area. Maybe we should all do something to change that though.... Maybe I'll start in my area. Report
Fabulous idea we will have to talk to the mayor about that one.
Thanks for letting us know. Report
I wish I had an adult playground in my area. A neat idea and a great way to meet new friends along the way. Report
Sounds like an interesting idea. I might use something like that if one were available in our area. Report
It sounds like a great idea to me and I would certainly use one if it were available. Report
What a fabulous idea! At 50+ I am sick and tired of everything being geared for the 20-30 year olds. I returned to the work force 6 years ago and am having a terrible time finding suitable clothing and makeup for my age group. And exercise? What is best for my body yet won't hurt my joints or cause problems later in life? Report
I'm not a senior, but I would use something like that if it were available. I have limited physical ability right now because of side effects of treatment for cancer. Report
I agree with GGkids7 - I wish Spark was a bit more senior oriented also. I am sure they'll get there though as they seem to be responsive to members needs.

On second thought - I just looked into the Senior Health - Lifestyle Center here at Spark (link listed above) and found quite a few good resources to benefit those of us over 55. If you haven't yet, take a look. Report
What a great idea. We should copy that idea yesterday........ Report
This is wonderful, I wish Spark would be a little more geared toward the Seniors. We seem to be the lost generation, but the most steady visitors to this site. Please, Spark make more things for the Seniors. Report