6 Proven Physical Benefits of Playgrounds
At Play Mart, we know that you expect more from your playground than just a safe place to play. You expect your investment to provide physical, mental, and social benefits to the children you serve. We have the same expectations for our equipment, which means that each playground is designed with this in mind. Let’s take a look at how Play Mart playground equipment can contribute to your children’s physical development.
Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day for children and adults alike. Physical activity has proven benefits for the mind and body, yet for many of our youngsters, meaningful exercise is not a part of the daily routine. In fact, it is estimated that the average child spends 7.5 hours in front of a screen. Our kids spend most of their day at school, frequently sitting idly at a desk, and then come home and head straight for the couch. It is important that children make activity a natural part of their lifestyle early on so they can carry healthy habits into adulthood. How can we encourage an active lifestyle in kids? Make exercise fun! Playgrounds are a great place for your child to get much-needed physical activity and muscle development while letting loose and being a kid. Play Mart playgrounds offer a variety of entertaining equipment that can target each different muscle groups and motor skills. This results in a full-body workout that doesn’t feel like exercise at all.
1. Upper Body Strength
Upper body strength is not just for bodybuilders at the gym—it is important for your children’s coordination and posture. Many children have poor posture due to excessive screen time which puts undue strain on the neck and spine. Developing these muscles also makes activities of daily life easier, such as pulling, lifting, and carrying. Our playgrounds incorporate ample equipment that encourage engaging the upper body, such as:
- Climbing nets featured in many of our products such as the Eagle, Orca, Pinnacle, and Castle Court
- Rock walls included in numerous products such as the Bison
- Overhead Ladders and Rings as found in Cassiopeia and Coyote
- Chin-up bar in the Brooke design
2. Lower Body Strength
The lower body is the foundation of many of our kids’ daily physical activities. Lower body strength is needed to stand, climb stairs, walk and run. Engaging in exercise that uses the legs and lower core also improves bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis later in life. Play Mart equipment is built for activities that develop lower body strength. For instance:
- Step-ups like the Triple Stepper (Tiger and Francaise)
- Bridges such as the Clatter Bridge (Caribbean Hideaway and Ashland), the Sloping Clatter Bridge (Kilauea) and the Rubber Bridge (Kilimanjaro)
3. Core Strength
Core strength is needed to stabilize your children’s bodies and maintain balance. Core muscles include the abdomen, lower back and hips. Good posture depends on core strength, which reduces back pain, especially as your children grow older. Each of our playgrounds include opportunities to strengthen the core. Some examples are:
- Super Glider featured in the BearBack
- Tunnels like the rope tunnel in Prairie
- Fireman’s Pole featured in the Wonky Treehouse
Motor Skills and Flexibility
While our kids develop these key muscle groups, the playground is also a place to develop motor skills.
4. Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills utilize large groups of muscles and are necessary for large movements such as walking, climbing, and jumping. Many of the activities that your children enjoy on the playground use and improve gross motor skills.
- Climbing walls require whole-body engagement. The upper body is used to reach for the next handhold and the lower body is used to push up to the next step.
- Overhead Ladders and Rings utilize the upper body to stay off the ground and also improve coordination and balance.
- Slides engage the lower body in order to climb to the top of the slide and require the upper body and vestibular system to hold the head upright when going down the slide.
5. Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills involve smaller movements, typically using the hands and wrists. Because of this, many people think that developing fine motor skills is exclusively an “indoor activity”. That is false! Playgrounds can also be a great place for our children to improve fine motor skills. Many of the features included in Play Mart playgrounds involve fine motor skills, such as:
- Gear panels (Tuscany Village, Coral Reef)
- Steering wheel (Wolf, Piper)
- Other panels (Airplane Dashboard in Cardinal, Chime Panel in Music House)
6. Flexibility and Joint Health
It is important to keep the body moving so that muscles stay flexible and joints have a wide range of motion. This not only aids in athletic ability but reduces risk of injury. When your kids spend all day seated, it results in stiff muscles that can become easily sore. This makes exercise difficult and painful. The best way to gain flexibility and increase blood flow is to use all muscles and joints regularly. The designs of Play Mart playground equipment offer plenty of opportunities to improve flexibility, whether it be climbing up the Vortex Climber (Summit) or swinging on handles (Aspen).
Physical Activity with Inclusivity and Accessibility
Playing on the playground is a pillar of the childhood experience and should be available to each child regardless of physical ability. Movement, when done within a child’s ability level, is important for physical and mental well-being. At Play Mart, we want the enjoyment of the playground to be accessible to all. We offer equipment that is built with inclusivity in mind, such as the Cardinal and Eagle. These playgrounds are wheelchair accessible and offer multisensory stimuli as well as extra safety features. Children of all ability levels will be able to play safely and reap the physical and mental benefits of the playground.
If physical activity is to become a natural part of life for the children you care about, it has to be an enjoyable experience. Any adult knows that if exercise feels boring and tedious it will not be sustainable. This is why so many gym memberships get canceled a few months into the year after the “New Years Resolution” mindset wears off. Children are no different! Playgrounds are an excellent way to incentivize children to get off the couch and outside in the fresh air. While your children enjoy climbing, crawling, sliding, and swinging on the playground, their bodies will enjoy the benefits of activity. Muscles will strengthen and develop, joints will loosen, and flexibility and coordination will improve. Play Mart playgrounds are more than places of fun and amusement. They are gyms in disguise!