Winston Fletcher (left) talks with Margaret Mann as she use an exercise machine during the official opening of the first pensioners' playground in Hyde Park in London in May 2010. Play areas for older people are popular in China and parts of Europe, but the concept is new to the U.S. (Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)
Playgrounds aren't just for the little ones anymore. A new trend has emerged in Asia and Europe that is slowly making its way across the pond: playgrounds for seniors.
These playgrounds have been popping up in the last few years in Asia and Europe. They are designed to help promote balance and flexibility for older people with equipment such as elliptical machines, static bikes and body flexors. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Playgrounds have other benefits as well. They give older adults a place to congregate and socialize, which combats loneliness. And when you take the multigenerational approach, this arrangement also gives adults something to do besides sit on a park bench while their kids or grandkids are playing.
In the U.S., the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! has been working in partnership with the Humana Foundation to build multigenerational playgrounds throughout the country. KaBOOM! has already built 53 multigenerational playgrounds across America in cities such as Cleveland, Tampa and Orlando.
Sarah Pinsky, director of client services at KaBOOM!, told the Huffington Post that seniors in Cleveland formed a fitness club shortly after the multigenerational playground was built in their community. In Orlando, the multigenerational playground built outside a Midway Safe Harbor community center sees heavy attendance from residents of all ages. Even tweens and teens — age groups that don't normally frequent playgrounds — have been spotted using the fitness equipment.
If you have one of these playgrounds in your community, you can take both your kids and your parents to the playground. If you're lucky, you might even get your kids to push you on the swings.
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