Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Playgrounds Provide Fun Exercise Opportunity for Kids and Who?

Find Fun Exercise Options at Playgrounds - Kids Playing in Cedar Bluff, VA ©Katrena
Can exercise be fun? Well, that depends on your definition of fun, but many kids find playgrounds to be awesome places to visit. Shhhh.....don't tell them that they are exercising if that would make it not fun to them.

Creative Ways to Get Active and Exercising

The CDC recommends that children get at least one hour of aerobic activity daily while adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. As people search for ways to stay active, many families find that a playground can provide great opportunities for children to exercise while having fun. Many playgrounds have equipment that can assist with strengthening muscles, building cardiovascular endurance, and perhaps pick up some vitamin D from the sun.

Encourage Active Play & Social Skills in Playground - Kids Playing in Bandy, VA Playground ©Katrena
In addition to the physical benefits of exercising in a playground, social skills may be further developed as the kids interact. Kids may also be faced with challenges to learn new motor skills, such as learning to swing on a swing by oneself or how to balance on a tire bridge. Seeing a child who finally masters a new playground skill can boost the spirits of the witnesses as well. You can also easily add other learning opportunities like counting, shapes, and colors with a little imagination.

Get Fit & Have Fun in Playgrounds – YMCA of Beaufort County SC Playground ©Katrena
Playgrounds for Adults Too?

Parents and caregivers might work up a sweat together in a playground if they choose to actively play with the kids rather than hanging out on the benches. I confess that I've been known to sit and watch or chat with some other adults quite a few times, but there are those days when I get out and join in the fun.

Playing a romping game of tag is often met with squeals of delight from the kids as they scatter! Sharks and minnows is another potential playground game, and one favorite of the younger children is to play "What Time is it, Mr. Wolf?" in our community playground. Kids are often great at improvising, so if the adults run short on ideas, they can probably just ask the little experts on the slides and in the tunnels.

According to a February 11, 2010 NY Daily News article, some playgrounds are being developed for adults with a few designed for senior citizens. What a great idea! It can be so easy to get into an exercise rut, but a playground designed for adults just might elicit a few smiles along with the workout.

Families Can Get Fit & Have Fun - Adult in Playground in Cooleemee NC ©Katrena
Always check with a healthcare provider before starting or changing any exercise routine.

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