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Benefits of outdoor gyms

According to studies, fewer than one in 10 Australians over the age of 50 do enough exercise to improve or maintain their cardiovascular fitness. Studies have also suggested that at least half of all age related diseases to muscles, bones and joints are caused by disuse.

While it may seem intimidating to start a new exercise program at an older age, exercise may help to prevent, and in some cases reverse, many age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints. Exercise is also great for falls prevention as well as for maintaining functional capacity.

While you should always seek the guidance of a doctor when starting a new exercise program, once you are comfortable, councils around Australia have been taking initiative, installing a new generation of outdoor gyms created by a_space in public areas such as parks and open spaces.

These set ups are free to use, social and they also feature innovative equipment, similar to what is found in indoor gyms that are safe to use outdoors, durable and cleverly designed to enable users to alter the level of effort without needing to modify equipment settings.

Professor Adrian Bauman of Sydney University said that the outdoor gyms have had alot of success in China and promise to have the same effect here.

“In countries such as China, the governments have been very good at putting in lots of similar equipment and promoting them to communities. In fact, they have over 300, 000 stations set up across the country and they are widely used, especially by older adults who often move to parks in their retirement for social reasons,” says Prof Bauman.

“Older adults in Australia are the least active group in the country and they often don’t utilize our parks, however the sooner older adults realize that this style of fitness equipment is suitable for them to use, the sooner we should see more enjoying our outdoor environments.’

“Exercise is very important for an older adult to help prevent falls and also maintain functional capacity.”

If that’s not enough reason to get outdoors and get exercising, here are some more reasons:

It’s social

The a_space stations are often set up in parks and other outdoor community spaces including some retirement villages. We live in a time where many of us don’t even know our neighbours, so getting outdoors and getting to know the people around you is a great way to make friends and to keep motivated to keep coming back to reach your daily activity goals.

Keeping active

More than half of older adults are insufficiently active for good health, however exercise is imperative for improving physical and mental health and reducing the risk of falls.

The recommendation for adults aged 65+ is to be active everyday for an accumulated amount of at least 30 minutes.

They provide exercise instructions

The set ups feature detailed yet easy to follow instructions of how to use the equipment.

They also have QR codes for each item that once scanned on your smart phone will bring up videos demonstrating the exercises.

They also have stations and equipment made specifically with older adults in mind to help improve balance and coordination.

Vitamin D

We live in such a beautiful country so why not make the most out of it and get outside! While sun safety is always important, a few minutes a day of sunshine is not only great for bone health (vitamin D) but it’s also great for your mind as well.

The best equipment for older adults to use

  • Aerobic Cycle: This is essentially a stationary bicycle that helps to develop cardiovascular fitness and coordination. The unit relies on ‘spinning’ the pedals at pace which helps to increase heart rate and therefore improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Elliptical Trainer: Develops cardiovascular fitness while promoting both upper and lower body strength and coordination
  • Pull Downs: Promotes good posture, arm, shoulder and upper back strength
  • Dexterity Builder: Designed for seniors and younger people with limited mobility. This unit aids in building and maintaining dexterity, coordination and wrist and elbow mobility essential for everyday quality of life
  • Shoulder mobility wheel: As shoulder mobility declines with age, this unit helps to promote greater shoulder flexibility and strength by moving the handle through a track offering resistance

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Alana Lowes

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