Playgrounds For Senior Citizens Boost Activity And Decrease Loneliness

Playground spaces for senior citizens have become an increasing trend in the past several years as businesses and non-profit organizations partner up with communities to provide outdoor spaces that encourage healthy living and physical activity for all ages. In 2012, for example, Humana partenered with KABOOM! to bring multi-generational play structures to cities across the United States.

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What does a senior-focused playground space look like? It often includes park space with exercise bikes, cross-trainer machines and other low-impact fitness equipment. These can provide safe and convenient exercise opportunities for senior citizens who are working to maintain and build their strength, balance and flexibility.

Sometimes, walking paths and community gardens are combined with the fitness areas, encouraging communities to enjoy the beauty of nature while getting some physical activity. Many of the community fitness areas for senior citizens are built alongside children's play areas, allowing for a multi-generational combination of health and fun. As Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, told The Wall Street Journal back in 2016, "These environments can be highly social [...] There’s something positive and invigorating about that, especially if the children have moved away or a spouse has passed on.”

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Placing the kid-spaces and the senior-spaces near the picnic areas and walking trails also provides the ideal setting for family picnics and reunions. With a little something for everyone, parks like these encourage the community members to get outdoors and stay active together with their families.

One partnership that has championed this multi-generational playground idea in the United States is the partnership of Humana Foundation and non-profit KABOOM! Humana Foundation is the philanthropic organization associated with Humana, a health care company. The foundation's mission includes promoting childhood health, active lifestyles and intergenerational health. Humana first partnered with KABOOM! in 2012 to build multi-generational play spaces, and over the next few years, they coordinated the building of many of these across the country, according to Business Wire.

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Michael B. McCallister, Humana's CEO for many years, had this to say about the Humana-KABOOM! collaboration:

"At Humana, we believe in making fun things healthy and healthy things fun. Through this playground partnership with KABOOM!, we’re offering families an opportunity to enjoy physical activity and a stronger sense of belonging where they live, work, and play."

Good health and fitness are relevant for all ages and for all stages of life. Enjoyment of the great outdoors and the refreshment of play and fun are things that don't have an age limit. Cities and towns are working together to help their community members stay healthy and active –– from children all the way up through elderly adults.

As people work to stay healthy and strong, it's encouraging to see that older people and their fitness needs are being included in the outdoor spaces that their communities provide.

And exercising together with other seniors and alongside young families on adjacent playgrounds gives the opportunity for the kind of togetherness that encourages and builds true community.

What do you think? Do you know a senior citizen who would love to see this kind of playground in their community? What suggestions do you have? Ask a friend for input, and start up a conversation about this great idea that's gaining momentum by passing this article on.