Experts agree: we all need more physical activity. According to the 2010 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth from Active Healthy Kids Canada, only 12% of our children and youth are getting the recommended 90 minutes a day.
How can we change that?
“Play more!” says Ed Stiles, certified exercise physiologist and consultant for Blue Imp Recreational Products.
“Playgrounds develop the fundamental movement patterns which are essential to global fitness, such as pushing, pulling, kicking, flexing and twisting,” explains Stiles.
Playgrounds offer an astonishing variety of fitness benefits. Core and upper body strength, core mobility and flexibility, agility, balance and co-ordination can all be developed simply through active play on the playground.
As children climb, slide and swing their way through the playground, they are increasing their heart rate (getting a great cardio workout), building stronger muscles and bones, and burning calories all while having fun with their friends!
Overhead play components build upper body strength and hand-eye co-ordination. Climbers develop both lower and upper body as children pull with their arms while pushing with their legs.
Even slides and swings offer fitness benefits. While zooming down a slide, children are using their core muscles to stay upright and flexing their body as they go around a bend. A child on a swing is pushing, pulling, gripping and building core strength.
For parents, caregivers and educators, playgrounds offer a convenient and easy way to ensure that children are receiving the recommended amount of daily physical activity.
Experts in physical activity agree that playgrounds are part of the solution.
“Our youngest generation deserves a strong start in life,” says Michelle Brownrigg, CEO of Active Healthy Kids Canada. “We have the opportunity to secure a healthier future for our young children by ensuring that policies mandate daily physical activities in schools and childcare facilities, investing in safe parks and play structures, and providing caregivers and educators with training and support to provide adequate physical activity opportunities to kids.”
“Parents must know that smaller, incremental routine changes can have major benefits in the health and well-being of their children,” says Kelly Murumets, President and CEO of ParticipACTION. “Families can make the local playground a regular destination, and encourage their toddler to climb, swing and simply explore the park with them.”
While playgrounds are designed primarily for children, adults can benefit as well. Can’t find time to get to the gym? Why not get your work-out at the playground? Play with your children or use the playground as an outdoor fitness centre for your own personal work-out. Think outside the box!
From two to eighty-two, all ages can participate in time on the playground. You’re never too old for Blue Imp!