EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 10, 2013

Exercise park for elders would make city'trendsetter'

City officials study parks popular in Europe and Asia

HAVERHILL — If the city created a play area where senior citizens could get some exercise on outdoor equipment designed especially for them, would they use it?

City officials said the idea sounds intriguing. They are considering a proposal by City Councilor William Macek for buying specialized playground equipment designed for senior citizens who want to improve their health, fitness, dexterity and balance — and maybe make some new friends.

The city has playgrounds for children, and Macek said it’s time to create one for adults.

Macek said the idea for adult outdoor wellness areas began in Asia, moved to Europe and is now beginning to see growth in the United States. He said the exercise equipment he has researched is designed to extend people’s range of motion, improve balance, build strength and promote cardiovascular health.

Mary Murphy, 77, was exercising recently in the basement fitness room of the Citizens Center. Murphy said she’s been exercising all her life and enjoys using the room’s exercise bikes and stair stepper.

“I imagine it would be nice to use on a beautiful day,” she said about a park built for senior citizens.

Sam Yanku, 88, is a regular at the fitness room and said he likes Macek’s idea, but “only if people would use it.”

“If it’s just going to sit there, then why bother?” he said about the equipment Macek suggested. “And who is going to pay for it?”

More than dozen women were getting a good workout during a recent Zumba class at the Citizens Center. Their concerns for Macek’s plan included worries that senior citizens might fall ill when trying to exercise outdoors on a hot day.

“I don’t believe I’d use it, but it does sound like a great concept,” said Lynda Parisi, 68, of Haverhill.

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