Playground Fitness for Teens & Adults

Joining a local health club isn’t for everyone. The cost of membership can be prohibitive for teens and adults and a club’s hours of operation often do not coincide with adults’ busy work schedules. Those excuses, along with just falling into the habit of living a sedentary and inactive lifestyle, are the reasons for the existence of an epidemic of obesity and its related health issues (diabetes, high blood pressure, depression) among today’s teens and adults. Promoting regular physical activity is a #1 public health priority. One way to address this growing public health problem is to make physical activity and fitness equipment more affordable, more accessible, and more enjoyable for teens and adults. Since 2010, outdoor fitness parks have emerged in major cities across the county–New York, Miami, Los Angeles– and research data has shown that outdoor fitness parks can provide people with opportunities to engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity, resulting in happier, healthier people and communities!

“Emerging science suggests that exercising outdoors increases the overall enjoyment of working out, as well as increasing the frequency and length of time spent exercising,” says Stephanie Devine, vice president of a major US recreation company. “Outdoor fitness equipment is free to the user, encourages people to work out together, and is available nearly any time of day.”

Outdoor fitness playgrounds can be located next to public parks, playgrounds, and public trail systems and can be designed to provide a tailored workout for users of any fitness level. Make sure the equipment selected will provide a total-body fitness program that includes aerobic, muscle, balance/flexibility and core fitness. Users can do crunches, leg lifts, push-ups, cycling, squats, and pull-ups while enjoying sunshine, green spaces, and fresh air.

Since 1970, one could find static fitness equipment in community parks: chin-up bars, balance beams, and press benches. But these days, one can also find “gym” equipment: resistance machines, lateral pull-down machines, and elliptical stair-climbers. And, with the implementation of  2010 DOJ ADA laws requiring equal access for all, equipment in parks is also available for the disabled and wheelchair-bound.

When planning for the successful design and siting of your fitness park, there are a few points to remember:

  • Plan for site preparation, surfacing, and appropriate spacing and placement of equipment.
  • Group all equipment in one visible location. This will encourage socialization and deter vandals.
  • Keep the equipment close to a parking lot for easy access. Busy adults like to work-out and leave.
  • Delineate your fitness area by using plantings and distinctive surfacing materials.
  • Make a schedule of preventative maintenance and inspection.
  • Create easy-to-follow instructional signs for each exercise, along with a visual graphic of the exercise that illustrates the muscles being used.

To help generate interest in your $10, 000-$40,000 investment, create community fitness programs and initiatives; make people aware that the equipment exists, that its use is free, and promote its health benefits for teens and adults.

An active community is a happy and healthy community!