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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Fighting childhood obesity, one playground at a time

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel | Aug 13, 2015

With the agility of a squirrel, Zoe Antczak-Chung, 8, bounded across the monkey bars at Palisades Recreation Center in the District. She slipped her lanky legs through the bars, released her hands and dangled upside down with glee.

“Did you catch that?” Zoe asked before jumping down and heading to the pull-up rings. In a matter of seconds, she leapt up, grabbed the rings and completed a set of pull-ups that would put most grown-ups to shame.

“She’s gotten quite good at those,” said Agni Chung, Zoe’s mom. “Her twin brother likes the climbing wall, goes up and down like 25 times. It’s a great outlet to release some energy.”

Palisades has one of the area’s several fitness clusters, a type of playground designed for kids to improve their balance, agility and strength. These are not your average swing-and-slide sets; they’re more like mini-military training grounds in crayon colors.

Clusters vary in size and complexity but often feature at least six components, including balance beams, parallel bars, sit-up benches and chin-up bars. Unlike the raw wood and steel structures of my 1980s childhood, clusters often come with protective coating to reduce injuries.

“Part of the recommendations for physical activity for kids is to not only get aerobic activity, but muscle and strength activity,” said Dawn Podulka Coe, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sports Studies at the University of Tennessee. “So monkey bars, where they’re holding their bodyweight . . . anything where they’re loading the muscle and the bones is going to help strengthen them.”

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