The physical inactivity of children and young people costs the Finnish society three billion euros a year. Simply recommending that children should exercise a minimum of three hours a day will do nothing to increase physical activity. We need action that converts the recommendations into a reality. We need completely new indoor exercise spaces and methods that encourage children to get active, whatever the weather or season, to provide all children and young people with equal opportunities to access sports.
Exercise options that are accessible to all would promote children’s physical activity.
Equal sports opportunities would promote the mobility of children
Physical education provides children with regular and free exercise once or twice a week at school. At their best, schools offer children a range of activities from floorball to adventure trails and anything in between. School and day nursery grounds and parks also offer opportunities for play and games, at least when the weather is good. Public spaces, such as shopping centres, may provide young children with small play areas with traditional slides and adventure play. However, in addition to these options, growing children need other exercise. According to the Recommendations for children’s physical activity, published by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, children should be physically active for at least three hours a day.
“Public places lack indoor spaces that enable group exercise and allow equal opportunities for people of all abilities.”
While many children do sports in their leisure time, there are too many of those who remain physically inactive. In Finland, the physical inactivity of children and young people costs society three billion euros a year. Simply recommending that children should exercise a certain minimum amount per day is not enough to increase physical activity, unless we can offer the exercise spaces and methods, and provide all children and young people with genuine and equal access to them. Sadly, even when kids would like to get active, our society has failed to provide all children with genuine opportunities to meet the recommended amount of exercise. Many families with children simply cannot afford the equipment or the fees charged by sports venues.
Children and young people need updated exercise spaces
The free sports venues offered by municipalities and cities are usually located outside, their use restricted by both the weather and the season. The climbing frames and equipment on playgrounds attract young children but do not offer much for older kids. School sports facilities have remained largely unchanged and traditional for decades. We are in desperate need of some modern options besides wall bars and ball games. Publicly funded indoor sports venues have basically not kept up with the times.
“We need an exercise space which can compete with the mobile puzzle game apps.”
The information society is changing the ways in which we do sports. The sports infrastructure should be modernised to make exercise fun for today’s children and young people. Game apps as a leisure-time activity have gained ground from physical activity in all age groups. That means that exercise spaces should be made so attractive that they can compete for children’s leisure time against smart phone game apps. That’s a real challenge! And it’s a challenge the women behind the PlayFloor concept, Marke Rautiala and Sari Backman, have decided to tackle.
A completely new indoor exercise environment where virtual gaming meets exercise
Sari and Marke have developed PlayFloor, a completely new indoor exercise environment where virtual worlds of video games meet music and exercise. The PlayFloor system enables up to ten people play a fun video exercise game while the platform gets them moving according to the game controls – the player’s whole body gets a physiological response from the smart game floor. Players can choose from a range of games, each with a different gaming environment and type of exercise, ensuring that everybody will find something they like.
Smart exercise is a future concept which continues to offer new opportunities as the games industry develops. New smart exercise apps keep coming to the market. That means that the PlayFloor environment will continue to attract users with new and exciting options, inspiring children and young people to come back and do more exercise.
PlayFloor smart exercise environment fills an exercise infrastructure gap
The PlayFloor smart exercise system is designed for indoor public spaces, offering year-round access. It can be installed in a school or shopping centre, making it free of charge and easily accessible as part of daily activities.
“We are creating a new indoor exercise infrastructure to meet the need for a leisure activity space between the wall bars and puzzle games.”
The recommended three hours of daily exercise can be achieved in short bursts during school recess or in a shopping centre where families go shopping together. The PlayFloor indoor exercise game can be played in a single mode or in a group, bringing the whole family together. Doing things together brings happiness and social activity to our daily lives.
Marke Rautiala – Physical education and development of children and youth.
Sari Backman – Business development and R&D.
PlayFloor indoor exercise environment and smart exercise concept:
Ministry of Education and Culture recommendations for children’s physical activity (3 hours of exercise a day):