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London’s first specially-designed ‘pensioners’ playground’ has opened its gates to the public in Hyde Park this week. The £50,000 playground has six pieces of play equipment – all designed to exercise a different part of the body.

Funded by Westminster City Council and The Royal Parks the equipment will provide gentle exercise for the over 60s and follows on the heels of the UK’s first Older People’s Play Area which opened in Blackley near Manchester in 2008.

This pioneering playground has the full support of NHS Choices - it’s extremely inspiring and makes perfect sense.

As ambassadors for the older age group – we now have over 1500 residents aged 55 and over living in our villages – we totally support this initiative and any exercise regime being promoted.

Exercise in any shape or form is not only great physically, it has a hugely positive impact on our well-being and mental state and as we get older, this applies even more.

The confidence to be gained from physically exerting ourselves means we are more confident about all activity, even simple things like going out for a walk, going shopping, meeting friends for coffee, taking day trips out –the types of things which become increasingly bigger hurdles and bigger issues as the years pass by.

Physical activity is a key part of our village life. In a way, each one has its very own version of a ‘playground’. Activities from the more excessive of tennis, working out in the gym, and keep fit, through to the more sedate croquet, boules, yoga and walking, take place on a daily basis and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

What residents tell us is that it’s not just the exertion and physical benefits of these activities, it’s the social side too, the chance to meet up, chat and build friendships. This is a real and invaluable bonus and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.

So, I’m delighted that exercise for this age group is now being promoted out in the wider community. Hyde Park is the latest but more will surely follow (there’s already one planned for one of the UK’s older hotspots Eastbourne) and we will support this wholeheartedly.

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