If you’ve noticed the appearance of exercise machines in your local park, you’ll know all about the rise of the adult playground. Borrowed from a Chinese idea, the theory is that free and accessible exercise machines help to break down the barriers to fitness and encourage those who have never exercised before to have a go.
A nudge to fitness
It’s all to do with ‘nudge’ theory, which helps people to make healthy choices without being told what to do. An outdoor gym is usually positioned by a children’s playground or takes the form of a series of equipment pieces on a popular walking route, somewhere where they can’t be avoided.
Instead of telling people about the benefits of exercise and then expecting them to have the time, money or motivation to get to a gym or leisure centre, the adult playground makes fitness, exercise and general well-being easy.
A place to play
So why do adult playgrounds work? Firstly, there is their association with play. This helps to break down the idea that exercise is a chore and makes it playful and interesting. You can strengthen your quads on a dog walk and work out with other adults of all fitness levels. There’s none of the intimidation of the gym and all the enjoyment of meeting other people and forming an exercise community.
Low impact and intuitive to use, adult playground fitness equipment also makes the most of exercising outdoors, which is proven to burn more calories, leave you feeling less stressed and create a sense of mindfulness and well-being that’s good for your mental health as well as your physical being.
Create your own adult playground
It’s not difficult to get out in the garden and do some physical exercise on a sunny day, or you could look at climbing frames for older children from a specialised company like http://www.niclimbingframes.com/climbing-frames that you can play on too.
What next for the adult playground?
Hull has already trialled the green energy gym, which allows users to light up the exercise zone at night as they pedal and keep track of the energy generated.
The adult playground – simple, free and easy – shows no signs of disappearing from our parks for quite some time.