Adult Playgrounds and the Skill of Fun

You get older and, even in these times of a supposed refusal (or failure) of people to grow up, you stop playing.

Computer games may still be somewhat okay; card or board games are accepted if you are in the fitting circles; some sports activities are seeing a lot of support… but simply running around, exploring your surroundings, climbing trees, balancing over poles is looked at askance. “You a child or something?!”

In fact, the “adult” world has been encroaching onto childhood to such an extent that not even children are supposed to be active like that anymore.

“Sit still!” is the newly-resurgent admonition all-too-often leveled at children; letting them even just walk to school by themselves has, in places, been taken as neglect. And then we wonder, in an environment full of sugary temptations and lacking in opportunities for physical activity, why obesity is an increasing problem.

Let’s get back to adults, though.

We are the models and the ones who should be growing up – and shouldn’t growing up entail some understanding of the needs of a body, as well as the opportunity to create the conditions good for us?

I think it should, and I think we would all do better if we remembered that and didn’t just grow older, but better.
Obesity is not just a problem of children, after all; and even normal-weight people are not necessarily any fitter than heavier ones – but what do we think of playgrounds?

It’s interesting to look at different places.

China, for example, has similar ideas as ‘the West’, of fitness being something for the younger people and a certain rotundity being a sign of success in older men.

However, China also has something of a traditional physical culture for people who are growing older, not least with tai ji quan.

Now, with a more affluent and aging population and the pressure this puts on the health care system, there are some similar issues as we see in ‘the West’, too – but there are also all those “adult playgrounds” that, whether they were already planned for older people or not, are being used by them a lot.

Beijing Public Playground

It’s one of the biggest challenges for health systems, and it is being discussed a lot in the context of that.
What about the other, much more personal, side to it, though?

By accepting the half-truth that you will decline as you age, you make yourself decline much more than you would otherwise, and it costs a lot in terms of your very own quality of life.

Remaining active, both physically and mentally, is one of the (if not the) main differences that make for a difference in how you will age, badly or well – and it’s good at all ages. Fact “is that the human body adapts positively to well-managed training stress … regardless of age. Age is not the limiting factor. The desire to perform at a high-level and make the necessary sacrifices to do so is.

It’s not necessarily sacrifice, though, when you manage what you do well – and fun.

This is one of the reasons why I recommend Christopher McDougall’s (new) “Natural Born Heroes.”

The story he tells is quite fascinating, but the pointers he gives to various practices and skills that one can gain and profit from, from parkour to foraging, are an even greater (and more necessary) concern for a future with some serious fun.

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  1. Lauren Faggella

    Where is the playground in the video located?

    • The Grünberg mountain. Gmunden in Upper Austria’s Salzkammergut. Not really meant for adults, but not often used too much, anyways ;-)

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