Friday, February 20, 2009


Grandmas having a swinging time in the playground.

Imagine a playground in Kuala Lumpur filled with silver-haired pensioners and retirees exercising on specially designed equipment. You can’t? That’s not surprising. We are so used to associating playgrounds with children that the image doesn’t sit comfortably with us.

The idea is not new. In 2004 Japan introduced nursing care prevention parks, designed to help keep its rapidly ageing population fit and healthy. In early 2006, research studies in Finland found that after three months of using the exercise equipment in the park, a group of 40 elderly people showed marked improvement in balance, speed and co-ordination.

Demonstrating how to stretch your upper body.

Exercise equipment for the elderly.

Encouraged by the research findings, Germany opened the first playground for the over-60s in 2007. Britain followed suit in early 2008. Instead of swings and slides, there is a variety of exercise equipment designed to provide a low impact workout for different parts of the body.

Exercising has never been so much fun!

How long will it take our town planners and housing developers to incorporate playgrounds for the elderly into their master plans? If that's too much to hope for, they could consider cross-generation playgrounds which cater to both adults and children. These playgrounds would have slides and swings that are wider and sturdier, and exercise frames of different heights. Instead of sitting on the park benches watching our grandchildren play, we can join them on the slides or hand-bars. What a fun way to bond with the little ones in the playground, and get a little exercise at the same time.

Letting the child in us come out to play.

The question remains: when will the elderly in Malaysia get to enjoy their own custom-built playground?

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