4 Options for Playground Fitness Equipment for Teens
More than 150,000 UK teenagers spend over eight hours per weekend on their phones. In addition, one quarter believe that video games count as exercise.
Active teenagers and adults usually start at a young age but it’s never too late to get outside. A study at the University of Sydney found that teenagers who exercised for two or more hours a week were healthier and happier than those who didn’t. This is partly because exercise releases endorphins and affects dopamine and serotonin levels, making the participant feel happier.
Although playgrounds are traditionally visited by children, teenagers and adults can enjoy a host of benefits by using outdoor fitness equipment, such as increasing muscle and bone density as well as cardiovascular health. The self-working equipment needs no power and uses body weight as resistance, meaning the exercise is harder the heavier you are.
Below is a list of 4 options for playground fitness equipment, any of which could be used to improve a young adult’s health and physical fitness.
Firstly, an aerobic exercise that will look to improve a teenager’s cardiovascular health, coordination, balance and mobility. Working in a very similar way to a cross-trainer, two users will engage both arms and legs in pulling and pushing motions. By using multiple muscle groups, the equipment can provide a full-body cardio workout. Working together to move the machinery will improve coordination, stamina, balance as well as teamwork.
Similarly to the double cross-country skier, the seated leg press has the potential to be used by two people at once. However, the seated leg press does not work in tandem and the user is only responsible for moving their own weight.
Focusing work on the lower body has an incredible number of benefits for fitness. Your legs contain the biggest muscles in your body, including the quadriceps and the gluteus maximus. While the glutes are a minor factor for the leg press, working bigger muscle groups causes a greater amount of muscle tissue to break down following a workout. This in turn causes the body to produce more growth hormone as a means of recovery. This leads to increased muscle growth and conditioning in contrast to working smaller muscle groups such as the arms. This is why so many top athletes and weightlifters emphasise ‘leg day’, or more specifically not skipping it.
This is another piece of playground fitness equipment that engages multiple muscle groups. The row and ride uses the arms and legs in a pulling and pushing motion. This re-creates a similar action to that of a horse rider.
There are several health benefits to this exercise. For example, the user can operate the machine at their own speed, increasing for aerobic exercise or slowing for a gentle outdoor workout. This is not only beneficial for cardiovascular health but mental health as well. Aerobic exercise is difficult and as a result the body releases pain killing endorphins to offset the effects of tiredness. Just 20-30 minutes of intense exercise can release endorphins lasting 2-3 hours, improving mood and energy.
Numerous muscle groups are used during this exercise including arms, back, legs and core. Using larger muscle groups will have positive impacts on your progress, as previously discussed. With the row and ride, the legs are working with the arms and back to move the machinery. By engaging as many muscle groups as possible, the row and ride provides a full-body aerobic workout, just 30 minutes of which could leave you with a natural high.
Lying on a bench, the user will hook their feet under an elevated bar and sit up. This will engage the upper and lower abdominals, improving core strength. Believe it or not, you use your core almost every minute of the day. Your core is being engaged whenever you: pick something up, stand up, walk and even sit! Another good reason to keep a healthy core, is that it is directly linked to back pain and prevention of it. Your core works to keep your back straight when picking things up and also to maintain good posture. In fact, a core strength regime is often the first step in addressing back pain.
The main advantage of using the sit-up bench is that the elevated bar forces the user to keep their feet off the bench, engaging the lower abs which would otherwise not be used. For teenagers, a strong core will improve and maintain posture. Poor posture is another cause of back pain and something that is quickly lost if you sit down most of the day.
Using playground fitness equipment is a great way for teenagers and young adults to get involved with healthy exercise. Its advantage is that, once installed, playground fitness equipment can be operated without electricity or much maintenance. It is important to encourage teenagers to be active as much as possible so that they are more likely to continue in later life.
Regular exercise wards off a huge number of conditions that could cause issues such as obesity, low-blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems. Exercise also benefits a teenager’s mental health thanks to the endorphins released during exercise. Using playground fitness equipment allows teens to enjoy themselves with friends and become familiar with the rewards of exercise, which will hopefully be carried into their adult lives.