Importance of fitness in children's health
Introducing and encouraging healthy physical fitness habits at an early age improves both the mental and physical health of children and establishes habits to keep them physically active as they grow. The more active children are in younger years, the more likely they are to continue an active lifestyle into adulthood, reducing the risk of chronic diseases later in life.
Regular physical activity in children promotes better health, and playgrounds help to make physical activity a fun, regular part of a child’s life. While all playgrounds include elements that will improve physical fitness, including outdoor exercise equipment for kids in a playground design targets movements and specific activities that help children improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and agility.
Why is exercise important for children's health?
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things to improve children’s overall health. The early years, ages 3 to 17, are critical periods for developing movement skills, learning healthy habits, and establishing a firm foundation for lifelong health and well-being.
Physical Activity Guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says that regularly active children have a better chance of a healthy adulthood. According to HHS, children and adolescents do not usually develop chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or osteoporosis. However, current evidence shows that obesity and other risk factors for these diseases, such as elevated insulin, blood lipids, and blood pressure, are increasingly appearing in children and adolescents.
The CDC also reports that one in three school-aged children are overweight and obese, making it more important than ever to provide and encourage opportunities for children to participate in physical activity. Regular exercise can reverse these trends and increase cardiovascular health, lower body fat, and improve muscle tone and bone strength. Physical activity also makes it less likely that the risk factors will develop further.
There are more than physical benefits to outdoor exercise equipment. Mental and emotional health is also improved through outdoor exercise with enhanced cognitive function for school-aged children, improved energy levels, and reduced symptoms of depression. HealthKids.org says that kids who are active also sleep better and are better able to handle emotional challenges they encounter in a day.
Playgrounds and children's fitness
When physical activity is fun, children are excited about exercise and are more likely to engage and continue healthy activity habits. Playgrounds that include exercise equipment for kids offer a fun means of exercise that improves physical fitness.
When a child looks at a playground, they don’t think about the heart-healthy benefits of racing through an obstacle course, the muscle strength they are building when climbing up a cargo net, or the improved coordination they are gaining from walking across a balance beam. All they see is fun. For kids, exercise on a playground is disguised as play, and soon they are running, jumping, and climbing their way to improved health.
Designing children's fitness playgrounds
Playgrounds that include outdoor fitness equipment for kids introduces them to a form of physical fitness that is approachable and fun and can be used to support and supplement any school PE curriculum. This is incredibly important if children aged 6 to 17 years are going to achieve the 60 minutes or more a day of physical activity recommended by CDC. Our equipment is designed to help children develop their strength and coordination as they grow. It is also designed for children to have fun and stay engaged, helping them to associate exercise with a good time.
Our FitCore™ Extreme obstacle course lets kids experience exercise in a fun and exciting way while promoting whole body fitness and agility. Whether you want to encourage friendly competition or individual personal development, FitCore Extreme offers a variety of age-appropriate challenges to entice, promote, and test children’s physical fitness. Courses can be designed for teens or kids ages 5 to 12. You can design your own ninja course by grouping your favorite challenges or consider one of our predesigned courses. Each challenge comes with a helpful sign that clearly sets the goal.
We also offer freestanding fitness equipment for kids, making it easy to add age-appropriate challenges to your playground that encourage physical fitness among kids. Elements like the horizontal ladder station, spring-up, or parallel bar can be incorporated for strength training and flexibility. Or include the step-up station or curved balance beam for improving coordination and learning body awareness.
You can also rest easy knowing our high-quality equipment is engineered and manufactured for durability and high-traffic, outdoor use. To learn more about which playground equipment is right for your school or community, or for questions regarding the American Society for Test and Materials (ASTM) fitness standards, contact your local Landscape Structures playground consultant.