ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Nearly 500 seniors living in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul now have access to a jungle gym made for adults over age 55.

Episcopal Homes of Minnesota and Xccent Fitness opened a new motion wellness gym for seniors that has a first-of-its-kind indoor play structure designed to reduce the risk of falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one of three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury among this group.

Geri Thompson, 90, says she is excited to join the rest of her senior living community in using the jungle gym to help her overcome obstacles from past knee and shoulder surgeries.

“I don’t think it is about age, I will never be old,” Thompson said as she navigated the $24,000 structure inside the seniors’ apartment complex.

Episcopal Homes Wellness Director Julie Niewald helped people get around in ways that increase core strength and the ability to move around safely.

“A lot of times seniors shuffle their feet and that increases the risk of falls, so this structure helps them practice really lifting their feet and legs,” Niewald said.

The structure is a first for Minnesota, though are 35 jungle gyms like it across the country. The facility should be open Monday-Friday during regular business hours and eventually open seven days a week. Niewald said the facility is open to some seniors living around the Episcopal Homes complex, not just current residents.

“It is really about more than the physical activity, it is about building new relationships and community,” Niewald said.

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