"Exercise in the City" – a successful start in Berlin
Last year the German Association of Towns and Municipalities and the trade magazine Playground@Landscape organised the themed series of events entitled "Exercise in the City – Towns and Municipalities as Spaces for Exercise and Play". One of the aims was to explore the importance of play, sports and exercise facilities with a particular emphasis on the creation of new spaces in urban areas and sustainability. With contributions from academics, planners and individuals working in the field, the use of such facilities was explored and various examples of best practice were showcased.
On 14 November 2018 the opening event of "Exercise in the City" took place in the Marshall-Haus pavilion in Berlin. Around 130 attendees from throughout Germany attended this one-day further training event which the organisers opened with a short address. Next, the social scientist and mobility researcher Dr. Weert Canzler from the Berlin Social Science Centre provided insights into future developments in exercise in the city. He focused in particular on motorised road transport in contrast to exercise-friendly modes of transport. "Active mobility" was advocated as a model for the future which will not only make towns and cities more exercise-friendly but also healthier. In the following presentation Prof. Robin Kähler, a sports scientist and Chairman of the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) in Germany, presented a host of successful examples of exercise-friendly urban planning. He said that in this regard it is worth looking beyond Germany, for this is now a hot topic throughout the world. Next, Vitalij Mihailoff of the German Gymnastics Association (DTB) presented a project which encourages the establishment of calisthenics facilities in German local authorities with the financial backing of a health insurance fund. A number of such facilities have already been set up.
After lunch, another project supported by a different health insurance fund was presented, namely the "AOK Exercise Island" in Munich. The speaker was André Zarth from the AOK health insurance fund. This project, together with the initiative presented previously, highlight the commitment of health insurance funds to the promotion of urban exercise facilities as their goal is to help people remain healthy. Such a collaboration offers a wide variety of possibilities. In the next presentation the focus was on children. "Fit through School" is the name of the project showcased by Uta Lindemann of the University of Bielefeld. This initiative encourages measures to incorporate exercise and sports activity into the school day outside of physical education lessons. Here the focus was on school playground design in particular. The event then moved on to looking at the topic from an architectural and planning standpoint. First, the municipal planner Peter Apel of the Stadtkinder planning office in Dortmund reported on the various options for establishing exercise and play facilities in towns and cities. His presentation included numerous examples of best practice, and he also focused on the planning steps. In the next address, the landscape architect Dirk Schelhorn made a heartfelt plea for exercise-friendly urban planning. Once again, he provided an abundance of successful examples. Overall it was very clear just how varied solutions for exercise in the city can be. And that such facilities can address the needs of all generations. Rounding off the event, the landscape architect Brigitte Gehrke reported on a project carried out in Berlin itself. Here on Lewaldplatz an "all-generation" facility has been developed and she informed her audience about its planning, design and construction.
The organisers, speakers and attendees all expressed satisfaction with the quality of the opening event in the Marshall-Haus pavilion. The diverse programme provided a great deal of important information about and showcased innovations in "Exercise in the City". The organisers would like to thank all the speakers for their well-received presentations, the many attendees and the sponsors and Messe Berlin for their support. This event series is scheduled to continue in September 2019 with Ingelheim pencilled in as the host town. Further information will be available soon in Playground@Landscape or at www.bewegung-stadt.de
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