11 Ways Playgrounds Benefit the Health of Their Communities

The benefits of playgrounds for communities are endless. From helping you escape a sedentary lifestyle to empowering you to be an environmental steward and developing children’s cognition, these recreational areas deserve more attention from community residents due to their positive contributions. Here are 12 reasons you and your family should visit your local recreational regions more often. 

Improve Physical Well-Being

The presence of playgrounds in communities promotes physical health. When you or your kids see those empty slides, monkey bars and swings, wouldn’t they be inspired to play? Here are three physical benefits of community playgrounds.

1. Promote Exercise

Playgrounds encourage both children and adults to stay active. Thoughtfully designed recreational spaces can motivate kids to jump, run, or walk. Play detaches them from their screens and moves them closer to nature. 

For adults and older people, a similar setting can increase their exercise volume and meet health experts’ required 150 minutes of moderate-intensity movement per week. Many adult play areas are equipped with shaped bars to do squats, recumbent bicycles to build leg muscles and overhead presses to train the arms. Exercise can preserve their mobility and increase their independence.

2. Prevent Obesity

Obesity is a major problem for kids and adults alike. About 19.7% of children and 41% of adults meet the criteria for obesity. Major culprits are the typical Western diet and lack of movement. 

Playgrounds can curtail the rates of obesity by providing people a place to engage in active, joyful activities that make them lose weight and their bodies lean. At an outdoor recreational ground, residents are free to choose their equipment, what routines to do and how long to exercise, promoting movement as a fun activity instead of a self-imposed torment. Being in control of their physical training routines makes them more likely to do it often.

3. Enhance and Preserve Motor Skills

Outdoor play areas can help kids develop their ability to use various muscles to perform tasks. For instance, toddlers can develop their skills to crawl, sit and walk when playing on the slides. It has similar benefits for older people. Doing arm or leg raises, lunges and squats can preserve their motor skills through old age and refine their overall mobility.  

Inspire Inclusivity and Accessibility

Public outdoor play fields aren’t exclusive for kids. Anyone can use them, including older people. However, some may implement additional rules to promote safety, such as banning adults in kids’ playgrounds because equipment is built for children. Other than this, most of these spaces are inclusive since they: 

4. Use Universal Design Principles

An ideal play park is built with inclusivity in mind, as it’s a place where different types of people meet, including children, parents, older adults and those living with disabilities. If a city decides to build a park, it must meet the requirements established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including several safety protocols, to become socially inclusive for every community member. 

Playgrounds are fun centers thoughtfully designed for every person of diverse abilities. If there’s an exclusive factor, it’s the age-based restriction separating play areas between kids and adults. Nevertheless, anyone can visit and use the various amenities. 

5. Provide Equitable Access

A playground is a haven for every child or adult. That’s why builders strive to develop a culture of inclusion and equal access in these outdoor recreational fields by installing structures for everyone of varying ability levels. 

For instance, ramps are available to make it easier for people using wheelchairs to access the equipment. The wider walkways help individuals with mobility devices navigate the trails. 

Many outdoor fun areas have adaptable equipment children and adults living with a physical disability can use. 

6. Encourage Individual Engagement

They also encourage all community members to participate in the planning and maintaining these green spaces, promoting a shared responsibility for everyone. Older adults living with disabilities have the same rights as the rest when designing the playground. 

Boost Mental Health 

The benefits of community playgrounds on the mind are far-reaching and numerous. Here’s why you should visit and use one near your neighborhood.

7. Stave off Stress

Most playgrounds are green areas featuring large trees, abundant plants and natural elements. Many are located inside a park, increasing your access to green environments. 

Nature is known for its incredible power to soothe stresses of the mind and body. In a scoping review of 13 studies involving college students, researchers found walking or sitting as little as 10 minutes in any natural setting to significantly and positively impact physiological and mental health. Spending a brief time at a park can relieve physical and cognitive overload.

8. Increase Social Interaction 

Here, you’ll find benches and tables under large trees where you can take a break from exercising and socialize with others. Older people’s social activities decrease as they age, mainly due to their declining health. Instead of enjoying afternoon tea with friends, many end up in their living rooms in front of their TVs as they can no longer drive. While it gives pleasure, it promotes inactivity and social isolation. 

Older people turn playgrounds into social hubs where they meet with neighbors, mingle and build connections with others. Here, young and old can foster quality relationships and promote a sense of community to prevent loneliness. 

9. Refine Cognitive Abilities

These play areas can stimulate children’s creative, problem-solving, and thinking skills. Play is the best method for young ones to learn and hone their cognitive abilities. 

A review of 12 high-quality studies revealed exposure to nature can enhance children’s and adolescents’ cognitive functioning. Researchers found tremendous positive effects on working memory and sustained or selective attention. Visiting the playground as a family weekend activity can encourage kids to move and train their brains by accomplishing various tasks. 

Champions Environmental Sustainability

The ecological benefits of playgrounds for communities help minimize the perpetual problem of climate change. Here are two ways they help. 

10. Utilize Green Infrastructure

One of the benefits of community playgrounds is they eliminate the need for indoor electric-powered equipment like those used in gyms, saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. 

Outdoor structures like bars, stationary bikes and resistance training equipment are durable and built to be weather-resistant, making them sustainable. Additionally, leaving home and choosing to play outdoors teaches young ones how to care for the planet in their own ways. 

Many play parks are within walking distance from homes, eliminating car travel. They contribute to environmental sustainability and provide a safe zone for people to experience and appreciate nature. 

11. Support Local Biodiversity

The plants and trees in your recreational spaces provide a habitat for bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife to survive and thrive. Experts found protected areas can enhance bird diversity inside their borders. 

Playgrounds are secured areas where logging and animal hunting are prohibited, restricting human actions’ impact on these species’ environment. If people build and use more of these green spaces, a diverse range of animals will find themselves in cities. 

Playgrounds Improves Everyone’s Health 

The benefits of playgrounds for communities are multifaceted. They serve as rendezvous for older and young people to nurture their social health. They provide a place for all to practice self-care through exercise and increased nature connection. Above all, they’re sustainable, enhancing biodiversity and allowing people to have fun while contributing to protecting the planet. Enjoy the outdoors more by visiting your local playground.

Beth Rush
Author: Beth Rush

Get A FREE Copy

Subscribe To Our Magazine

All New!

Subscribe To Our newsletter

get your digital copy of the latest issue of the NFM

Fill out the form and get the latest issue delivered right to your inbox