Want to get parents moving at a playground? Get rid of the benches.

This is according to a new study published in Preventive Magazine that looked at the differences in behavior between parents when benches were available and when they were not.

For the study, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture focused on one particular playground in Grand Forks, N.D. The playground had eight picnic tables with benches that parents could sit in and watch their kids while they played.

Lead researcher and USDA supervisory physiologist James Roemmich walked past that playground every day on his lunch break. He wondered what the adults would do if the benches were removed, so he set up an experiment.

Researchers watched the playground for one week with the benches in place, then for one week after the benches were removed. Finally, the benches were reinstalled, and Roemmich and his team watched them again for another week.

What he found was that removing the benches not only got the parents off their backsides and onto their feet — that in and of itself can improve health — it significantly increased the likelihood that the parents vigorously exercised while they were at the playground. What's more, it significantly increased the likelihood that the parents played and engaged with their kids during their stay.

Removing the benches did not seem to affect the amount of time the parents allowed their kids to stay at the playground, nor did it affect how active the kids were while they were there.

What do you think? Would removing the benches at your favorite park make for a better playground?

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