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A Playground for Seniors

Berlin residents try out the city's first playground designed just for seniors and adults. Studies show that physical exercise benefits everything from bone strength to mental acuity in the world's aging population.

Inspired by fitness parks in China, Berlin has recently opened Germany’s first playground for seniors. The project is meant to encourage the growing demographic to stay fit--of course, local seniors will need to learn to use the park first.

A new outdoor playground in Berlin, Germany is one of the first of its kind. Designed for people at least 5 feet tall, it is not meant for children at all, but for seniors, as a means of physical fitness and social interaction. In what looks like a "gym placed in the middle of a forest," eight graffiti-resistant stainless steel machines are spread out over layer of bark and wood chips.

Studies show that Germany's population is aging. As the birth rate continues to decline, it is likely that the elderly population will become one of the fastest-growing demographics. Renate Zeumer, manager of Playfit, (who designed the playground) said that the playground was inspired by outdoor fitness parks in Beijing. Five yards ago, she noticed how people in China used simple pieces of equipment to exercise in parks and on streets. She said, however that she had to adapt the Chinese idea to machines suited to European heights.

The May 2 opening was attended by residents and politicians, as well as the coach of Berlin's Hertha soccer team. The total cost for building the playground was EUR20,000 - a fraction of the cost of most children's play structures.

Zeumer demonstrated some of the machines like the flexibility machine, a metal pole with two big red pulleys and handlebars attached. "It's really good for you," she said. She also demonstrated the leg trainer, which looks like a swing for legs. Karsten Heine attempted the back-massage machine in which one has to bend at the knees to rub their back against a knobby texture. "Very pleasant," he said.

Though when the opening ended and most people had gone home, children ran for the machines. And from the seniors that tried the machines, some complaints could be heard, such as "my arms are too short for this." Now people just need to learn how to use it.

Source: Der Spiegel

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December 6, 2019, 1:08 pm PDT

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