Outdoor gyms helping to tackle obesity - Education Matters Magazine
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Outdoor gyms helping to tackle obesity

A growing trend in youth obesity levels has seen fitness at the core of public discussion over the past few years, with many governments subsequently reviewing policies and programs to combat the increasingly inactive lifestyles of our children.

A school playground can play a significant role in developing positive attitudes towards physical activity. The right school playground can promote exercise, foster positive behaviour and assist in social development. This has also been recognised by many principals and education providers.

According to the Physical Activity Strategy 2018-2023 report from VICHealth, “Young people aged 12-17 years participation in physical activity halves during adolescence (down from an average of 120 minutes to just over 60 minutes a day) with sport participation levels dropping suddenly at around age 15.”

The report notes that children and youth who are physically active are also more socially active, demonstrate reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and tend to perform better at school. It also highlights the transition to and from secondary school as being “key life stages at which to influence behaviours that establish lifelong healthy habits.”

PlayRope, a supplier of outdoor fitness equipment, has seen a significant increase in secondary schools installing outdoor gyms to help increase student fitness and expand their physical education programs.

This is being supported through various State Governments across Australia, which are renewing physical education programs in schools. For example, the NSW Department of Education is currently trialling a new program in 76 state and catholic schools across the state. The program includes classroom weigh-ins and fitness levels in report cards and requires teachers to ensure that their students are active for at least 50% of all physical education classes.

As PlayRope asserts, an outdoor gym presents a great opportunity to boost fitness on the school grounds and in the community at large. When designing a gym, PlayRope says it is good practice to offer a range of different workouts, typically picking a couple of pieces of equipment that target each of the following areas: cardio, toning and strength.

Using its extensive experience in providing outdoor equipment and design solutions, PlayRope provides a range of outdoor gyms and playgrounds for schools, helping to transform a school’s vision into reality.

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