There is still a shortage of outdoor exercise areas for older people. User-friendliness and comfort are key when designing for older users.

“There is a serious lack of exercise facilities for older people. We have to start giving more attention to the needs of the elderly and give them opportunities to stay physically active”, says clinical biomechanist, Professor Pazit Levinger from Victoria University in Australia.

Levinger studies the role of exercise in promoting the physical and mental well-being of older people. She considers it worrying how often the needs of older people are forgotten when new exercise facilities are being designed. Playgrounds and facilities for young adults are common, but the options for older people are still far too limited. However, exercise benefits people of all ages.

Exercise brings physical and mental well-being

“Good motor skills help older people to get through daily chores and live independently. Exercise naturally builds muscle and increases mobility, but it is also good for the mind. Exercise is also directly linked to longer lives and a lower risk of chronic illness”, Levinger explains.

Older people should focus on exercises that mimic the movements that they need every day, such as standing up, reaching up into cupboards or climbing stairs. Strong leg muscles and balance are especially important.

“Good motor skills help older people to get through daily chores and live independently.”

The appeal of attractive surroundings

Outdoor exercise areas are a great way to give older people easy access to user-friendly exercise equipment. In addition to the equipment itself, however, special attention must be given to the accessibility of the area and places where visitors can rest. Well-designed outdoor exercise areas also help to promote social interaction, as they provide older people with an opportunity to get together.

“Outdoor exercise areas for older people must be comfortable and appealing. They must be easy to access both on foot or by car. The equipment must be safe and easy to use, and every product must come with clear instructions. Well-maintained and safe footpaths, comfortable seating and shady spots in hot weather are also important”, Levinger says.


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