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Fitness Research

We know that health and wellness begins with building healthy communities. By offering physical education and outdoor fitness opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, we can promote healthy behavior, encourage active lifestyles, and encourage community engagement. Through our fitness research with experts in the field, we have created several options for outdoor activity that promote functional fitness. Learn more about our fitness research below, then go to fitness.playcore.com to learn how we're changing the face of outdoor fitness in a positive, engaging way!

Outdoor Adult Fitness Parks: Best Practices for Promoting Community Health by Increasing Physical Activity

A variety of industry professionals, fitness leaders, organizational advocates, and local champions across a variety of communities played a critical role in the development of this collaborative resource, including Michael Suk, M.D., J.D - Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery, Geisinger Health System Danville, PA; Gary Liguori, Ph.D. - Department Head of Health and Human Performance, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; and Thom McKenzie, Ph.D. - Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University. Undoubtedly, they are to be commended for their knowledge and authority, but also deeply appreciated for their intense passion for innovative fitness solutions that promote community health and capital.

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Comparisons of Physical Activity on a Play Structure Between Age Groups Over 20 Weeks

A PlayCore-sponsored study conducted by Dr. Louis Bowers, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of the University of South Florida at Tampa.

This 20-week study focused on play behavior and caloric expenditure of children from pre-kindergarten through third grade during 30 minutes of supervised free play on a PlayCore play structure. The data collected showed a “meaningful expenditure of calories for 30 minutes of play” by all participating age groups over the research period; sustained or increased activity levels in all age groups; improvement in the ability of the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students to use the trapeze rings; and the overall popularity of climbing and sliding activities, as well as use of trapeze rings.

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National Evaluative Study of Play On!: Playground Activities for Youth Fitness Developed in Partnership with PlayCore and AAPAR

A PlayCore sponsored study for children’s physical activity and fitness

Researchers from Western Michigan University analyzed Play On!, a physical education program developed in partnership with AAPAR and PlayCore which uses playground activities to help kids meet national physical education standards. The program emphasizes fun activities around six elements of play: balancing, swinging, sliding, climbing, brachiating (hand to hand overhead travel), and spinning. The research evaluated the program’s role in getting kids moving and having fun. It included pre- and post-intervention surveys and qualitative measurements from children, parents, and teachers. More than 6,000 children from 14 beta sites in five states participated in the research, administered by the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR).


  • 91% of teachers reported that playground use increased
  • 90% of teachers plan to use the program in the future
  • 100% rated the program 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale, with 5 denoting “super easy” to use
  • 25% of parents participated in more family physical activity after the Play On! program was initiated
  • 100% of students reported having fun engaging in Play On! activities
  • 90%–100% of teachers reported that Play On! motivated students to participate in regular, vigorous, enjoyable physical activity in a safe and supervised environment

Download Overview >

"We support the implementation of the Play On! curriculum as a means of maintaining and improving regular and fun participation in physical activity for young children." – Dr. Yuanlong Liu and Dr. Suzan F. Ayers, Western Michigan University

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