Outdoor physical activity for older people-the senior exercise park: Current research, challenges and future directions
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© 2018 Australian Health Promotion Association. Issue addressed: Exercising outdoors provide beneficial effect on mental and physical health for all ages. However, few older people exercise outdoors other than walking. While outdoor gyms have become increasingly common in Australia, limited outdoor exercise equipment specifically designed for older people is available in public spaces. We have set up and evaluated a unique purpose-built outdoor exercise park for older people in the community setting and demonstrated positive physical and well-being outcomes associated with the provision of this unique exercise mode and social programme. Methods: This study is a reflective narrative describing this innovative exercise approach and reports challenges associated with establishment of the exercise park, conducting the randomised trial, strategies adopted to address these challenges and recommendations for future implementation of this approach in the community. Results: Many challenges were encountered, including securing appropriate land to locate the exercise park, control of environmental factors for safety (non-slippery ground and equipment) as well as logistics in running the exercise programme itself. Several adjustments in the equipment were also required to ensure safe use by older people. Conclusion: The inclusion of outdoor equipment for older people in public spaces or urban parks is important and careful consideration needs to be taken by local/public authorities to provide access, amenities and safety for all as well as activities to suit all ages. So what?: Seniors' exercise parks can be installed in public places and may provide an enjoyable and effective approach to engage older individuals in a more active and healthier lifestyle.
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