The Impact of Outdoor Fitness on Community Health

Placeholder alt text

The Centers for Disease Control reports that 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates ever recorded for the U.S. Our country is at a critical tipping point and communities, schools and organizations across the country can help fight this epidemic by making exercise accessible and fun through playground fitness.

Playgrounds that include sports or fitness equipment entice both kids and adults to become more active and take care of their health. Exercise doesn't have to feel like work. It can be fun and by including outdoor fitness equipment in your playground's design, you're encouraging and supporting kids and adults to make healthy choices.

To help build a healthy community using your school or community playground, we offer a wide range of playground fitness and sports equipment ideal for children and adults of all ages and abilities.

Explore the many options for adding fitness elements to your playground.

Playgrounds, Fitness & Healthy Lifestyles

Outdoor sports and fitness playground equipment allow children and adults of almost any ability to challenge their physical fitness and work toward improving their health from head to toe. Exercise for adults usually involves a gym, a fitness class or lifting weights, but it doesn't have to. Physical activities can be found at a nearby playground. For kids especially, exercise can be disguised as play — running, playing tag, climbing and jumping on playground equipment builds cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and agility.

We make it easy to add fitness to outdoor play and our HealthBeat® Outdoor Fitness System brings the gym outside. Designed for ages 13 and older, HealthBeat uses the latest exercise methodologies to provide a tailored workout for teens and adults of all fitness levels. Many communities are installing HealthBeat next to parks, trails or in conjunction with existing playgrounds.

In addition to our HealthBeat outdoor fitness equipment, we also offer FitCore™ Extreme to promote whole body fitness and agility. Extreme fitness is gaining popularity based on current T.V. shows and communities can create custom high-intensity strength training courses to encourage kids, teens and adults to get and stay fit. FitCore Extreme features multiple pre-designed challenges to test and engage children ages 5 to 12 as well as teens and adults.

Making physical activity fun and conveniently located is crucial because the Centers for Disease Control currently recommends children and adolescents spend at least 60 minutes per day engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In an age when children have easy access to passive entertainment options like T.V. and videogames and are increasingly more likely to travel by car rather than walking or biking, the physical play that takes place in outdoor play spaces may contribute significantly to meeting these guidelines.

In our whitepaper, Shaped by Play: The Formative Role of Play and Playgrounds, we looked at multiple studies that suggested access to recreational facilities and programs (including parks and playgrounds) is associated with children and adolescents' levels of physical activity. For example, in a study by James Sallis and colleagues found that preschoolers who had easy access to outdoor play spaces and spent more time there were more physically active than preschoolers who did not have the same type of resources. Access to playgrounds is the first step to heathier children and families.

Playground fitness equipment designed to promote healthy activities and reinforce healthy choices are invaluable to schools and communities. To learn more about which playground fitness equipment is right for your playground, contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant.

Designing Fitness-Focused Playgrounds

Outdoor playgrounds make fitness fun and engaging and encourage people of all ages to adopt a more active lifestyle. Parents who get moving with their children on a playground can also experience the benefits of exercise and increased physical activities. Seeing parents exercise and taking care of their bodies sets a good example for children and increases their likelihood to participate in heart-heathy activities. And, the more active children are in younger years, the more likely they are to continue an active lifestyle later in life.

Fitness-focused playgrounds help children develop their strength and coordination as they grow. With playground fitness, kids associate exercise with fun and don't realize their play is good for their health. When kids play on overhead equipment such as monkey bars they are gaining upper body strength while targeting skills such as grip strength, hand-eye coordination and visual perception.

Orono Park in Elk River, MN, for example, is a nature inspired playground that mimics the surrounding environment and offers activities for both kids and adults. In addition to the main play structure, there are nature-inspired rock climbers, swings and a tower tree house. The park also includes the HealthBeat outdoor fitness system, so parents and caregivers can work out while keeping an eye on their kids.

Playgrounds provide a fun means of exercise that children need for improved physical fitness. says that in addition to the physical benefits of stronger muscles and bones, fit kids have a less risk of becoming overweight, a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes along with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Kids who are active also sleep better and are better able to handle emotional challenges they encounter in a day.

Whichever sports and fitness playground equipment you choose, the important thing is you are providing fitness components that encourage adults and kids of all fitness abilities to work toward improving their health. Our outdoor sports and fitness playground equipment are built to withstand years of repeated use and exposure to the elements, so communities and schools can continue to reap the rewards of healthy, physical activity.

We also offer a continuing education session that provides tips for creating playground designs to get and keep kids active, and help you make a positive and healthy impact on children and families in your school or community. To learn more and schedule a learning academy session, contact your Landscape Structures playground consultant.