Why is physical activity important in Juvenile Detention Centers? There are a handful of reasons why, with the most important being the impact exercise has on adolescents' physical and mental health today, and throughout their lifetime. However, the health and wellness of your inmate population should not jeopardize the safety of your staff or negatively affect your budget. You can, and you should be confident that the equipment you're choosing is safe, has real exercise value, and will not be a headache for your balance sheet in the following years.

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Adolescent Health

Regular exercise is integral to developing healthy adolescents and reducing their chance for disease later in life. Exercise and physical activity help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as: heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and obesity (CDC, 2020). While incarcerated, adolescents do not have access to the same outlets their peers have to manage their weight and prevent disease, like gym class, riding their bikes, or team sports. With the addition of correctional-grade fitness equipment to your juvenile detention center, you are helping to manage their stress and anger and preventing potential disease.  

Tamperproof and Safe Fitness Equipment

Perhaps the most vital characteristic of the fitness equipment you choose is being tamperproof. In a correctional setting, tamper-resistant equipment isn't enough to keep your administration and correctional officers safe. Look for indoor and outdoor fitness equipment with tamperproof hardware. Tamperproof hardware consists of rounded head stainless steel carriage bolts with the locking nut in an inaccessible area. Additionally, equipment with tamperproof hardware poses a lesser threat to the safety of your staff and other inmates because no parts on the equipment can be removed and used as a weapon.

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Real Exercise Value

Jail administrators often overlook equipment with real exercise value in juvenile detention centers as unnecessary because fitness equipment with poor exercise value is better than no fitness equipment at all. However, this isn't the case. Many adolescents are not fully developed and do not have the upper-body strength to use bodyweight equipment. Additionally, if the equipment doesn't have adjustability, the fixed height may be too tall or too short relative to the inmate. Outdoor and indoor fitness equipment with adjustability, assistance, and resistance are essential to accommodate as many inmates as possible with exercise.

Budget Implications 

Equipment with proper exercise biomechanics means that inmates will receive real exercise value and decrease their risk for injury. Having a healthier inmate population will reduce the facilities' healthcare expenditures. Outdoor fitness equipment with real exercise value may feel like a higher initial cost; however, you will save costs in the long term. 

Criteria that may seem irrelevant in a prison setting are key for preventing injuries and providing more inmates resources to be healthy. Keep these points in mind when choosing fitness equipment for your juvenile correctional facility and set yourself, your facility, and your inmates up for better health.