May 20, 2010

UK: Exercise area opens for seniors in London

SEATTLE, Washington / The Seattle Times / Health / Physical Exercise / May 20, 2010

By The Associated Press

London's first "senior's playground" opened Wednesday in Hyde Park, after residents campaigned for more facilities to help older people get fit.

Organizers said people began lining up early to try the six low-impact fitness machines, which include a cross-trainer, a stationary bicycle and a sit-up bench.

"It was great seeing a large group of older people there, trying to outdo each other, even," said Mark Camley, chief executive of the body that manages the park. "As we get an increasingly older population, it's important to find ways to keep them active."

Pensioners exercise in London's first "senior's playground" Wednesday. It features a cross-trainer, sit-up bench, body-flexer, free runner, flex wheel and stationary bike.

The playground is aimed at people older than 60, although the gentle exercise also helps patients recovering from operations and injury. It's the first of its kind in London and is modeled on similar play areas for older adults in other European countries.

Frances Blois, a retired local government official, said the idea was to provide a friendly, free outside gym that won't intimidate older people and can allow them to socialize while toning their muscles.

The facility allows people to join friends and get fresh air in relaxed and attractive surroundings, she said.

Westminster City Council, which gave $60,000 to pay for the project, said a sign would identify the area as the "Hyde Park Senior Playground" but people of any age would be welcome to use it. [rc]

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