One London neighborhood is actually designing an outdoor playground for Baby Boomers. The park will offer low-impact exercise equipment to help older people improve their balance, flexibility and muscle tone.
“Every park has a children’s playground, very few have playgrounds for adults, and none have playgrounds for the elderly,” said Madeline Elsdon, whose local residents’ association has won funding for the playground, which is planned for London’s popular Hyde Park. “We wanted something that would be of long-term benefit to people, so we came up with this idea for an older person’s playground.” The playground, which is due to be built by this spring, will have six pieces of equipment bought in Denmark, including a stationary bicycle, a cross-trainer and a sit-up bench.
Exercise areas aimed at the elderly are popular in Europe and Asia, so why not here? According to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Southeast Michigan is currently home to 640,000 people 65 years and over—that’s 13 percent of our population.
But this is nothing compared to what we will see in the next decade (starting in 2011) as Baby Boomers begin to reach 65. Our senior population will grow by over 230,000 individuals in the next 10 years, and add another 250,000 between 2020 and 2030. By 2025, we (I have to admit to being one of those early Boomers) will outnumber everyone under 18 years of age.
WE NEED PLAYGROUNDS NOW! The region cannot afford to support an unfirm and unfit population of this magnitude. Besides, working out with others their own age could help older people alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.
Some may ask – why not just go to the gym? Besides the cost that many are not in a position to pay, there is the intimidating nature of many gyms – just too much firm flesh!