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Playgrounds for Adults

New designs makes it easier for everyone in the family to stay fit, regardless of age

Children from the center also weighed in by drawing pictures of their dream playgrounds. Using the artwork, adult volunteers then selected elements including a rock-climbing wall, slides and monkey bars. On construction day, adults and children painted their names and pictures on mosaic tiles used throughout the playground. The whole group decided the palette: bright orange and green that mimic the Midway Community Schools colors.

The KaBOOM!/Humana partnership is based on the multigenerational model, according to Bruce Bowman of KaBOOM! Humana wanted to help build playgrounds for two reasons. The first: obesity.

See also: Grandparents raising grandkids.

Seventeen percent of children and a third of all 60-plus adults in America are considered obese. "While some of the extra weight may be due to too much food consumption, the opportunity for many people to have areas to just do plain old physical exercise has become more limited," says Scott Latimer, M.D., market president for Humana.

The second reason: Getting adults to exercise is good for business. The benefits of exercise in later life include slowing bone loss and reducing the risk of dementia, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Exercise also builds muscle that helps lessen the chances of falling, a leading cause of disability in later years, and promotes sounder sleep. Research also shows that adults who play — or are simply physically active — live longer, happier lives.

But Humana learned through internal research that simply telling people they should exercise wasn't enough. "We've found that if you can make a health activity fun," says Latimer, "people are much more likely to do it."

You may also like: Things to try at least once, after 50. »

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