Personal trainer Oona Tolppanen has compiled a list of the main features found in most local outdoor sports facilities as well as tips on how these sites can be used by everyone, regardless of age.

The design of municipal outdoor exercise facilities has rapidly become much more advanced than before. It is no longer just children who have playgrounds built for them, as adults also now have their new “play areas” in the form of municipally maintained outdoor exercise areas. Combining these two elements means the whole family can now be active while spending time and playing outdoors together.

Children love to imitate adults, and I often see kids directly applying what they have seen their parents do as an exercise to their own play. In fact, this is a perfect way to smuggle into play useful movements that genuinely support children’s physical development. Playing and all-round physical activity improve agility, control and balance, which in turn are the best building blocks for any type of sport in the future. It is also important for children to be able to show off what they can do, even teaching their parents how to climb on the climbing frames and demonstrating all the tricks they have learnt on the gym rings. Time spent together is good for both the adults and the children in the family, and what could be better than go to the local outdoor exercise area together.

Building the adults’ equipment next to the playground is a win-win for all users, especially families. Adults can do circuit training while supervising their children, or the children can even join in. One of the most common reasons cited for not exercising enough is a lack of time, so combining your own training while taking the children out is an ingenious solution. Rather than sitting on the bench and waiting while your children have fun, why not make the most of that time and move yourself.

Designing parks and playgrounds for all abilities

When local authorities design outdoor exercise grounds for all age groups, consideration should also be given to people’s different abilities. Most equipment can be used regardless of a user’s level of fitness. For some, bars are just for hanging and improving mobility, while for others they are an invitation to try out creative and hair-raising street workout stunts. None of the equipment installed should be suited to just one type of movement; it should be multipurpose and as universally applicable as possible.

The parks should also have large and clearly illustrated information boards with instructions on how to use the equipment safely and tips on how to build a workout programme for any fitness and agility level. One of the reasons equipment might stand unused is that people don’t know how to use it correctly. When instructions are provided that everyone can follow, more people are likely to use it.

Designing exercise areas for all apsects of physical fitness

The best exercise areas have equipment for training all parts of the body and all aspects of fitness. The equipment should be designed to target muscle strength, mobility, endurance, balance and coordination to make the workout as beneficial as possible.

Various safely built frames for climbing and hanging are children’s favourites, while adults need sports equipment that focuses especially on maintaining good balance, agility and mobility. For senior citizens, balance and agility are key, as are maintaining and improving muscle strength. Keeping the entire human life-cycle in mind when designing local exercise areas results in a hugely valuable service where people of all generations can look after their physical health and fitness at their leisure.


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