A new outdoor exercise park is about to be installed at Studland in Dorset aimed at helping adults and particularly the older generation to stay fit and healthy.
Six major pieces of outside gym equipment, including an air walker, a cross trainer and a rowing machine will be part of a £17,000 addition to the Studland playing fields in Heath Green Road.
Studland playing fields will add exercise equipment for older people next to the children’s play park
Two year project to replace a skateboard ramp
It is the end of a two-year project to replace a skateboard ramp for teenagers at the park which had to be demolished on safety grounds, leading to residents asking for equipment which older people could use.
The hope is that village groups will make use of the outdoor exercise machines, next to a children’s play park, to stay fit and also use them as a focal point for social interaction.
Studland Parish Council heard on Monday 21st August 2023 that six pieces of exercise equipment specifically designed for older people have been purchased and should be installed at the end of September.
They will be on a soft rubberised surface and spread out to meet safety requirements, but still close enough to allow social interaction while people exercise.
A new table tennis table for teens has been set up on the base of the former skateboard ramp
Village concern over noisy teens
In the summer of 2021, Studland villagers living close to the play park had told the parish council they were happy that the skate ramp had been taken down, and did not want it to be replaced.
They were concerned about the noise created, bad language, parking on the verges and that the old skate ramp was used by teenagers from outside Studland, asking instead that something was done for middle aged and elderly residents, along with less noisy facilities for younger people.
Since then, a new professional table tennis table has been built on the site of the former skateboard ramp, play equipment for school children has been enhanced and now older residents are about to be granted their wish.
A seated leg press is one of the pieces of equipment chosen by Studland Parish Council
Working out slows down the ageing process
Fresh Air Fitness, an outdoor gym equipment company, will install an arm and pedal bike, an elliptical cross trainer, a seated leg press, an air walker, a self-weighted rowing machine and a combination of a shoulder press and leg press.
They have all been selected to exercise key groups of muscles, build up strength and improve balance, coordination and flexibility, or give a cardiovascular workout with low impact on joints.
According to Sport England’s annual Active Lives survey, which asked 180,000 UK adults about their fitness regimes, there are now 1.3 million more active people aged between 55 and 74 than there were six years ago, and half a million extra active folk aged 75 or more.
Cardio respiratory fitness, muscle and metabolic health, flexibility and balance deteriorate with age, but working out slows down the rate at which that happens.
A lot of outdoor exercise equipment is designed with the needs of an ageing population in mind
Added benefits of fresh air and sunshine
Managing director of Fresh Air Fitness Tom Willock said:
“If you are over the age of 65, it is the perfect time to turn to exercise for all of the wonderful benefits it brings. Exercise has been proven to prevent disease, lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and strengthen social ties.
“Many pieces of our outdoor gym equipment offer low impact cardio, strength and resistance, great for a gradual build-up of confidence, strength and ability over time.
“Because our gyms are located outdoors, you also get added benefits of fresh air, natural daylight and sunshine which are proven to increase serotonin and make you feel happy.
“Outdoor gyms also provide a brilliant place for social interaction and many organised fitness groups use our equipment, so you don’t even have to start off alone, if you prefer not to.”
An air walker is ideal for exercise and a chat at the same time
“We’d like it to be a social chat place”
Studland Parish Council has procured the equipment, along with installation costs including levelling the site, laying a stone base to set the pieces in and finishing with a soft, rubber surface, for just under £17,000.
Tim Watton, Studland Parish Council clerk, said:
“All six items will be installed at the village playing field in Heath Green Road – we did look at having them interspersed around the field in pairs with a linking trail between them, but felt that our site lends itself more to having all of them together.
“We would like it to become a social chat place where people can be going from piece to piece and still be able to talk to each other, or where mums and dads, or grandparents, could use the equipment while their children play in the park and still keep an eye on the children.
“We are pretty excited about it. We looked at a number of parks around that have similar equipment, including Days Park in Swanage and think it is a great way for adults to keep fit.”
An arm and pedal bike, designed for older people to improve flexibility, core strength and cardio fitness
“Moved away from the idea of a skate park”
“Studland’s skateboard ramp was a timber structure which had become out of date and was beginning to rot. It needed such a lot to bring it back up to safety standards that it was felt the best thing to do was demolish it.
“We did look at putting up a replacement, but when you looked at the cost and took into account how much it was likely to be used, it made sense to look at the requests about equipment for older people.
“We did put a table tennis table on the site where the skate park used to be and enhanced the children’s play area and now will add the outdoor exercise equipment.
“We have moved away from the idea of a skate park, just simply because we don’t have the youngsters in the village any more who would make use of it.”
Parish councillors were impressed by the outdoor gym equipment at Days Park in Swanage
“We have a lot of residents over 60”
Studland Parish Council chair Nick Boulter said:
“We have invested quite a lot of money into children’s equipment at the play park over the last few years and it is very popular with local children and visitors.
“We wanted to do a consultation with the village about what else should be done in the playing field, and the main thing which people wanted was fitness equipment for the elderly, as we have a lot of residents over 60.
“We went to see the equipment in Days Park and thought it was a wonderful idea, but we needed pieces of equipment that were geared to the needs of older people.
“When it is installed we will have a lot of publicity in the village to make sure that all the oldies – and I include myself in that! – do get out there and use it.”
Watch video of the equipment in use
- Stay up to date with the latest issues in Studland at the parish council website