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How Park Playground Equipment can Benefit Children

April 18, 2019

A recent study found that children now spend twice as long staring at screens as they do playing outdoors. The evolution of gaming and hand-held consoles has meant that children can be entertained without having to physically challenge themselves. While this keeps them quiet, it’s not doing their health any favours.

Another reason for this decline of outdoor activity is the growing number of ‘no ball games’ signs dotted around residential areas, forcing children to exclusively play in parks and playgrounds.

Still, with the variety of playground equipment, children should still be excited by the prospect of visiting their local park. If you are a parent whose child spends a lot of time indoors, it might be time to visit your local playground and encourage them to get active. This article will look at the benefits of playground equipment for children and why this is important for later life.

Encouraging physical activity

A recent study showed that school playgrounds encourage children to be active more than PE lessons. The same study went on to conclude that more time spent on school playgrounds was also conducive to academic performance. Playgrounds encourage activity in younger children as they can enjoy the outdoors with friends or schoolmates. The above mentioned study interestingly suggested that playgrounds could be important for community as children who play together are more likely to stay in contact in the future. Playgrounds offer physical and mental benefits for children, which they will carry into adulthood.

Physical benefits

Health experts say that children between the ages of 5 and 18 should take part in at least 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. Aerobic exercise focuses on cardiovascular fitness and comes from activities that elevate your heart rate and make you out-of-breath. Aerobic exercise is beneficial for any sport and can deter many health conditions that you’d rather avoid. This form of exercise reduces the risk of developing obesity, heart problems and asthma. If you decide to encourage your child to do more aerobic exercise, remember to give them regular water breaks to avoid dehydration and fatigue.

Mental benefits

If you didn’t already know, exercise can directly affect your mood. When your body exercises it releases endorphins to counteract the feeling of pain and exhaustion. This results in an almost euphoric feeling, which is why exercise is often recommended to people struggling with mental illness. As a result, active children are more likely to be happy children.

This mental reward from exercise, whether or not the child realises, is something that they will remember in later life. It is sometimes said that the hardest part of getting fit as an adult is motivation. Children who play outdoors on playgrounds are more likely to associate exercise with a feeling of enjoyment, which could make motivation easier in adulthood.

If you’re not convinced by this, consider how many phobias are linked to negative childhood experiences. If you’re still not convinced, association and memory are evolutionary traits that have led to humans being the dominant species. For example, if a child slips on ice and injures themselves, remembering the cause of falling (ice), and the result of the fall (injury), is important for them to not make the same mistake again. The brain will associate ice with falling and, as a result, pain. Therefore, it’s important to make exercise a regular and positive experience for children so that their association as adults is also positive, making them more likely to exercise.

In conclusion, playground equipment is shown to increase children’s physical activity more than planned sessions. Encouraging children to exercise is vital for their health and future participation in fitness. Playground equipment can help ward off many conditions that could cause serious problems later in life. So, ask yourself, is my child active enough? If the answer is no, then it might be time to encourage them to do some physical exercise and visit your local playground. This is a good excuse to get more active yourself, leading by example to benefit yours and your child’s health.

Written by: Andy Prentice
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