Do you remember when you were a kid?
You would blaze through the playground exhorting the swing with your body to go as high as it can, rushing down the slide, and going through the monkey bars as fast as you can.
Now, try those things again today.
The swing will not go as high as it used to and you may not even fit on the slide.
And I dare you to use your upper body to swing from one bar to the other on the monkey bars.
I bet you couldn’t do it!
Why are monkey bars harder for adults?
Kids can quickly get through the monkey bars like they are nothing. But why can’t regular adults do the same? It is to do with aging. As people grow older, they become less flexible and coordinated. And as they become heavier, it is harder for them to carry their weight through the monkey bars. Children also have a better body-weight-to-muscle ratio, which makes it easier for them to pull themselves up on the monkey bars.
Why Are Monkey Bars Harder for Adults?
Try looking around the playground and you’ll see children going through the monkey bars as easy as anything.
But as an adult, you can’t help but ask: Why can’t I do the monkey bars?
It’s actually pretty common for adults to have a hard time going through the whole set of monkey bars.
Here are four reasons why:
1. Body Weight to Muscle Ratio
Children have a better body-weight-to-muscle ratio compared to adults.
What this means is their muscles are more proportionally distributed all over their body.
As such, their arms and shoulders are more capable of carrying their entire body weight, hence, making it easier for them to swing through the monkey bars.
As people age, they naturally lose muscle mass.
Here’s an excerpt from a Healthline article:
“As you get older, you naturally lose muscle mass. This age-related muscle loss, also called sarcopenia, begins at age 30. You continue to lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass every decade, which reduces physical function and increases your risk of injury.”Kirsten Nunez (medically reviewed by Gregory Minnis, DPT)
But adults who work out a lot and have higher muscle mass can easily handle the monkey bars like they do the pull-up machines.
Children are just naturally more flexible than adults.
Observe children on monkey bars: they can stay on one bar for quite some time and grab the next while swinging their body like it’s made of air.
As we grow older, we also lose some of that flexibility that allowed us to easily play on the monkey bars with ease.
As this article from HealthyChildren.org states:
“Children are also more flexible than adults. But as usual, many good things must come to an end or just slow down. During the rapid growth of puberty, kids often become temporarily less flexible than they were prior to puberty.”
As they say, practice makes perfect.
And it just so happens that children have more practice on the monkey bars than adults do.
The more children play on the equipment, the more confident they become climbing and swinging through the equipment with ease.
Try going to a monkey bar as an adult and see if people won’t stare or laugh at you.
So, when confronted with the question: why can’t adults do monkey bars? The answer is as simple as practice.
Related to that…
Children are more coordinated than adults because they are more active.
Balance and coordination are necessary when playing on monkey bars. And these are also enhanced while regularly visiting the equipment.
Coordination is reduced during aging.
But it’s not aging per se that diminishes coordination.
It’s the lack of activity.
Check out this quote from a Harvard article:
“It turns out that one of the most important causes of reduced strength and coordination with aging is simply reduced levels of physical activity. As you age, it becomes more important to exercise regularly — perhaps even increasing the amount of time you spend exercising to compensate for bodily changes in hormones and other factors that you cannot control. The good news is that participating in exercises to improve strength and coordination can help people of any age.”
5. Fearless Determination
In many cases, it is also that fearless determination in children that allows them to easily navigate the monkey bars.
This psychological factor doesn’t affect adults that much.
First, adults already know they won’t get hurt on the monkey bars as the play equipment is made for children’s height.
Second, adults have done the monkey bars dozens of times so determination no longer works.
For children, that fearless determination gives them the adrenaline to use the monkey bars with ease.
Children are beasts on the playground.
They can completely cross the monkey bars within seconds, sometimes even skipping some bars to execute the obstacle quickly.
But why are monkey bars harder for adults?
There are many reasons why actually…
Adults don’t have the appropriate body-weight-to-muscle ratio, are less flexible and coordinated, and have fewer encounters with the equipment.
More importantly, adults don’t have that fearless determination that children possess while on the playground.
Don’t we all wish we could go back to being a child again?