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PLAYGROUNDS FOR SENIORS: A Not-So-New Concept

As we write this, the world is social distancing to avoid COVID 19 and helping to”flatten the curve”. There will be good news on the horizon in the future when we are able to communicate again in person and the news below is of particular interest for seniors:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”, said the famous playwright, George Bernard Shaw.

Since 1995 when first started in China, playgrounds for senior citizens are now enjoying growth across Europe and beginning to catch on in the U.S. For example, in Malaga, Spain over 50,000 seniors visit a custom built playground a week and in Barcelona, there are over 300 senior playgrounds. In the U.S. there are about 50 in cities like New York, Galveston, Cleveland, Miami, and Tampa with senior playgrounds and the trend is growing.

For practical reasons, these playgrounds don’t have the typical child apparatus like monkey bars, seesaws, and slides. The senior version is set up more for safe, practical equipment like stationary bikes, fitness steps, stretch boards, and other low impact items. Some of these may be found in a gym but have been redesigned with seniors in mind for the benefit of improving balance and keeping the joints and muscles moving.

As we age, we tend to become more sedentary and that lack of activity may accelerate the aging process. Having access to a senior playground allows our elders to get outside and exercise while socializing with others. Staying active and exercising helps stave off depression and loneliness as well as improving the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. It may also lower the risk of diabetes.

Best of all, the playgrounds are free so seniors on a limited income receive the health and social benefits at no cost. The senior playgrounds are now being developed as “multi-generational” playgrounds so children and seniors can remain active together, which is an added benefit for families. So, even as you age, this may be an option as a great way to exercise AND have fun with your grandchildren!

As with any exercise program, it’s best to discuss new activity first with your physician. If you have questions about the health of your bones or muscles, 360 Orthopedics can navigate that process with you. Go to our website for more information about us, or give us a call at 941-951-2663. We have three locations and are able to accommodate same/next day appointments when needed.

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