Exercise on the school playground

Exercise on the school playground

First and foremost, children need places to play and exercise. Lack of exercise is the biggest problem for our public health service. Being overweight and motor-impaired and having an underdeveloped sense of balance are the after-effects apparent in childhood. The principle claim relating to the reorganisation or reinvestment in schoolyards must include a good number of options for playing and exercise. A school playground offering many options for exercise can contribute to the quality of the school significantly. This requires a well thought-out space layout, which allows for much interaction. Exercise can be encouraged in many different ways.

Through simple landscaped areas and different pavements, many play shapes can be developed. But flat, concrete areas also definitely have appeal. It is not mandatory that they are removed completely when the schoolyard has its impervious surfaces transformed into pervious surfaces, but can be used for floor games or ball games. Also, skateboarding or playing street ball, especially in the afternoon, can be offered in such areas.

Alternative floor covering brings a schoolyard to life. The choice of flooring has to accompany the function of the surface. Grass is only suitable, for example, on large areas. Pavement where there is heavy usage, and gravel or wood chips are particularly suitable as fall protection material underneath play equipment.

However, in addition to a large multi-functional surface, small recesses are necessary too. In such recesses, for example, table tennis, marbles or chess can be played. Children can run up and down small hills. Objects can roll down and be rolled back up again. Hills can be connected to individual bridges, ropes and bars or to whole balancing structures. Different staircases and exits such as ramps and slides can be integrated into a hill. Thus, ways of playing are defined, thus encouraging exercise. Steps which lead to a higher or lower level are exercise-promoting basic elements on a school playground. For this purpose, the traditional staircase can be varied in terms of height and breadth to attract more attention. Furthermore, generously designed staircases are also meeting points and places for communication.
The installation of the play equipment has to be integrated into the overall picture or the whole idea of the school playground. Interestingly designed climbing structures, in taking the age structure into consideration, can both encourage exercise and also invite children to spend time on high-up platforms. In any case, the equipment should be designed in such a way that as many children as possible can use it or find a place on it.

Claudia Gust (SIK-Holz)
Photos: SIK-Holz

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