May 2, 2010

Gym Equipment in Public Parks

HEALTH - There are several cities in Europe, Asia and also in Latin America which have been experimenting with the concept of gym equipment in public parks to promote healthy living. The equipment is designed to be sturdy, unbreakable/immune to vandalism, easy to clean and easy to use.

Right: A park gym in Liverpool, England.

The concept is simple. Instead of paying $60 / month for a gym membership people who don't have a lot of money can simply go to the park instead and lift weights, do chin-ups and a variety of other exercises all in the open air.

The equipment is reasonably easy to build, easy to install and there is a variety of innovative designs out there. So why have cities in North America failed to give this a trial run?

Right: A park gym in Wigginton, North Yorkshire.

Its not because of the lack of overweight / obese people, I assure you. America's obesity rate is continuing to skyrocket and Canada's is close behind.

No, I believe its because many cash-strapped cities have failed to see the point in promoting public health. After all fit people tend to be happier, and happier people are less likely to be criminals. Happier people are also more productive at work, have lower stress levels, less need for medical attention as they get older, less strain on the system... you get the idea.

Fitness > Happiness > Government Savings

Right: Outdoor fitness equipment in Dewsbury, England.

However that kind of logic doesn't fly that well with some Americans who are afraid of a slippery slope of government intervention in their lifestyles. Some crackpots out there seem to think the government should mind their own business and Americans have the right to smoke, drink, snort and eat as much as they want regardless of the health consequences... and in this case they forget that "going to the park and lifting weights" is optional.

Nobody is forcing you to do it. But its a nice option once you do have it.

There is the rare exceptions of course. There is a park in Iowa in the USA that has outdoor fitness equipment, but beyond that its practically unheard of.

If someone goes to the park once a day and burns a mere 300 calories every day for a whole year they will lose 31.2 lbs of fat (and presumably put on some muscle). You could accomplish the same thing by jogging 30 minutes for every day, but some people (due to whatever physical condition they are in) are better off lifting weights instead of jogging.

In theory school playgrounds could do the same thing. Many of the companies that make outdoor fitness equipment also make playground equipment so it wouldn't be a stretch for schools to purchase playground equipment which is both fun and burn calories.

And then there's the elderly. Some homes for the aged do have fitness equipment, but its hardly mandatory. The concept of keeping old people alive longer so they can bilk more money out of them apparently hasn't stuck in their heads yet. Instead retirement homes seem to be following the concept of gross negligence.

Retirement communities and towns with a large population of elderly people however would certainly see health benefits if they were to invest in outdoor fitness equipment.

If you support outdoor fitness and weightlifting equipment in your local parks I recommend contacting your local city council members and harrassing them on the issue. After all why should fitness only be for people who can afford a gym membership?

1 comment:

  1. This is surely a very good blog, thanks a lot for sharing such nice information here.


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