The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects have released an official view that seniors-focused exercise parks could be an answer to a healthier ageing population.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in a recent report, revealed that the most common causes of injury in 2012-13 were falls, with over half the cases belonging to the 65-plus age group. The report, 'trends in hospitalised injury, Australia 1999-00 to 2012-13', states that 40 per cent of injuries were caused by falls followed by transport crashes (12 per cent).
To analyse these alarming figures further, studies are currently being carried out by Victoria University, Melbourne to understand the relationship between seniors’ active living and health benefits. A dedicated seniors’ park in Sunshine North, west of Melbourne is the site of a new collaboration between Victoria University and Lappset Australia, a leading play and fitness equipment company. As part of the collaborative research project by university academics, a group of seniors is being monitored to correlate their physical and mental health and exercise.
According to Victoria University's publicity, the park’s platforms, steps, bridges and bars were specifically designed to give seniors a fun workout for all the skills they need in their day-to-day lives, while incorporating extra safety features like soft, non-slip rubber surfaces and rounded edges.
Victoria University PhD researcher Myrla Sales said: “This is something different that has not been done before and what’s great is that it allows people to be outside in the fresh air, with their friends or making new ones and keeping up their skills to stay active.”
According to Harri Makela, Managing Director of Lappset Australia, the number of people over 60 years of age worldwide is growing at a faster pace than that of any other age group. If this age group grows as predicted, they will number nearly two billion by 2050. At that point, people over 60 will, for the first time in history, constitute a larger proportion of the world’s population than people younger than 14 years. Planning, therefore, needs to be done now for the years ahead.
The National President of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Mark Frisby identified the importance of landscape architects driving change for a healthier ageing population. Given that landscape architects have capacity to create a better future for society, it’s important to combine the strengths of the profession with allied organisations such as Lappset Australia and Victoria University at the outset.
Landscape architects contribute leadership, creativity and innovation, as they strive to collaborate to achieve better health, environmental, social and economic outcomes.