Why We Swing
The first motion that children experience after birth is a gentle rocking to sooth them. It is no accident that young children are provided with special chairs and beds that allow for a rocking to-and-fro motion to help lull them into a calm state or to sleep. Biologically, human beings are wired to enjoy the experience of a pendulum like swinging motion, but did you know there are a number of fitness benefits from the motion of swinging?
In a recent article from LiveStrong titled “Is Swinging on a Swing Good Exercise?” they reveal that there is a growing trend for gyms to incorporate swings or the motion of swinging as part of adult fitness programs. Swinging provides valuable exercise and muscle development in a number of key areas including:
- Abdominal muscles
- Thigh muscles
- Spinal and back muscle groups
- Arm muscles
- Legs and calf muscles
In additional to physical benefits, did you know that using a swing set can help both children and adults with sleep disorders? According to researchers at the University of Geneva, rocking motions provided during sleep can help the brain more rapidly enter into Stage 2 of the sleep cycle (where the human body spends more than 50% of the night in deep, restorative sleep). Adult participants of that study fell asleep more quickly when rocked in a swinging motion.
Swing Therapy for Children with Special Needs
For children with special needs, motion therapies including jumping, spinning, rocking and swinging are important for emotional stimulation as well as motor sensory needs. The motion of swinging is part of many therapeutic treatments for children with mobility needs. The calming effect proved by the sleep study mentioned above seems to help with special needs children.
The vestibular system is an internal sensor system located in the inner ear that governs movement, balance, and spatial input within the body. When children are engaged in swing like motions, the stimulation provided can help offset specific sensory processing issues. It can help children with hyperactivity or aggressive emotional expressions to become calm, and settled. In fact, that soothing feeling that is produced during and after swinging is so attractive to children, that it can be used as a motivator or reward in therapy for positive behaviors.
Please note that any swinging for therapeutic purposes should be conducted under adult supervision at all times, with appropriate head protection (depending on special needs), and conducted under the approval and supervision of a licensed therapist or family physician.
Incorporating Swing Activities into a Park or Playground
There are many different types of swings that can be added as independent play structures to augment existing playground equipment. If you are planning a new playground, it is important to consider the value of a swing set for cognitive and fitness benefits within your community.
APCPLAY offers a number of durable outdoor swing designs to suit any age range, and playground design. Learn more about our swing frames which are available in 1, 2, 3 and 4 bay options (up to 8 swings) to provide ample seats for small to large playgrounds. We even provide a swing frame with attached fabric shade structure to protect children from overexposure to harmful UV rays.
We also provide a number of unique swing seat options so that you can offer ADA accessible swings, infant swings, tire swings, and everything in between. If you need help determining what’s appropriate for you and your community’s needs, contact one of our play experts at 1-888-401-6446.