Exercise is vital for a kid's physical and emotional development, but not enough children are receiving adequate exercise. Regular exercise has been proven helpful for allowing kids and teens to build strong and resilient bodies that are less likely to develop health conditions. An hour of physical movement daily has also been tied to decreased anxiety and depression symptoms, and an improvement in mood swings that often come during puberty. Yet, schools and parents don’t know the ideal level of physical activity their children should be engaging in every day.
Studies show that one hour of exercise is most effective for children 6 to 17 years old to experience the benefits of physical activity. This time for movement can be done during school physical education classes, in classrooms, or other settings. However, parents and children must remember that exercise doesn’t have to be hard. Everyone can find enjoyable ways to move their bodies. Exercise is a fun way to pass time, not an activity that should be rated on performance. While more parents, schools, gyms, and other bodies are starting to adopt this view, the negative associations of exercise still deter youth from engaging in it.
Lee Spieker, a veteran in the fitness industry, believes obstacle courses are one of the best methods to encourage a kid’s fitness without attaching any of the negative beliefs adults may have with it. Obstacle courses are a creative way to pique children’s interest but also provide them with a full-body workout. Depending on the design of an obstacle course, it can utilize all the body’s muscles, improve and develop coordination skills, and increase flexibility while they just play.
Parents and children themselves may be curious about where an obstacle course is most useful. Although gyms and youth fitness centers are wonderful environments for helping children develop a positive relationship with fitness, there are more beneficial placements. Spieker and many other fitness professionals think schools are the number one location a youth obstacle course belongs. If obstacle courses became a standardized way of entertaining and physically engaging children, the impact would be massive. Kids and teens would receive their daily hour of exercise at school and receive the benefits of it continuously. These changes could transform the health of entire generations in America with one piece of equipment.
Schools have varying levels and budgets for providing students with an interesting physical education program. However, purchasing an obstacle course is a small investment compared to obtaining and replacing equipment that thousands of children use each year.
Knowing this information, Lee Spieker created an affordable and accessible piece of equipment for children’s exercise. Railyard Fitness, Lee’s company offers a portable obstacle course specifically designed so children can run, jump, climb and crawl. Available in various layouts, Railyard Fitness’ obstacle courses have been integrated into thousands of schools and youth fitness programs across the country.
Youth are particularly interested in obstacle courses because of the clear start and finish this equipment provides compared to traditional exercise machines. After using obstacle courses, children feel successful for what they have accomplished, allowing them to build confidence and self-esteem with repeated use. Additionally, obstacle courses facilitate parkour, which is popular among teens, and competitive games like tag.
Countless youth fitness leaders and physical education experts recommend the Railyard for kid’s fitness. “Parkour is exciting for today’s youth, it’s their natural form of movement and the Railyard is the ideal platform for youth parkour,” says Ryan Ford, Founder of APEX School of Movement.
"The Railyard has been an outstanding addition to my elementary physical education program,” says Mike Graham, an elementary physical education specialist, “It provides a creative outlet to interact while getting the benefits of improving balance, coordination, agility, muscular strength, and overall body awareness."
“The environment is the curriculum. Obstacle Courses offer a variety of engaging movement problems that youth solve through exploration and experimentation. We have been supporters of The Railyard for years; we think it’s a great tool to challenge and engage youth of all ages,” says Co-owners Jeff and Mikki Martin of The Brand X Method.
Spieker plans to continue advocating for robust youth fitness programs across the world. He will focus on educating physical education professionals on the benefits of children’s obstacle course activities. Spieker notes that obstacle courses help youth develop their strength, coordination, balance, agility, and various other skills that all individuals must practice and improve over time.
Media contact: Lee Spierker
Email: [email protected]