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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 13:51 GMT
Park hosts pensioners' play area
Play area for older people
There are six machines to provide a gentle workout (Pic: MEN)

A playground designed specifically for pensioners has opened in a park in north Manchester.

The Older People's Play Area on the Dam Head Estate in Blackley, is kitted out with equipment to strengthen hips, tone legs and train the upper body.

It was set up by the local residents' association, who were inspired by a similar playground in Germany.

The park, which cost 15,000 to build, was tested by locals aged over 70 before it opened to the public.

It was paid for by Northwards Housing, which said it was "delighted" to support the scheme.

It can be found next to the under-fives play area, and has six pieces of equipment designed to give older people a gentle workout.

Parts of the exercise stations are also accessible to wheelchair users.

'Never too old'

Joan Fitzgerald, 76, chair of the Dam Head Residents' Association (DAMRA), said it was "great fun."

"I'd recommend anyone to come and have a go, after all you're never too old to play," she said.

"It's all about health and fitness. A lot of older people don't want to go to gyms.

"We were looking for anything we could do for the residents of this area, and this was a new idea.

Play area for older people
The park has been praised by Age Concern

"The equipment is great. It's laugh-a-minute. If it makes people laugh and there is exercise involved, then how can it be a bad thing?

"Laughter is the best medicine in the world."

It has also been welcomed by Age Concern.

Director general Gordon Lishman said: "A well-designed fitness park could be a great way to encourage older people to exercise and socialise.

"Exercising a few times a week can make a big difference to someone's health and doesn't have to be strenuous.

"Many older people aren't exercising enough and we are really keen for local authorities to offer a range of accessible and affordable facilities that promote physical activity in later life."

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