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Cool Playgrounds

Kids that live near one of these are nearly five times more likely to be a healthy weight than kids who don't.

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Americans have a weight problem, our children included. About one in three American kids is considered overweight or obese, estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), putting them at risk for a variety of health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

A study published in the October 2008 issue of the "American Journal of Public Health" found that kids living about a half mile (1 km) from a playground are nearly five times more likely to be a healthy weight than kids without a playground or park in their neighborhood. Most American children, however, are more likely to spend their hours playing video games, watching TV, or using computers or cell phones -- an average of 7 1/2 hours a day, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation -- than they are being physically active.

And the state of play inside our schools isn't faring much better. A study published in the January 2009 issue of "Pediatrics" found that kids who participated in a minimum of 15 minutes of recess every day had fewer behavior issues in the classroom. Sounds simple enough, but one out of three third graders had either no recess at all or less than 15 minutes a day.

Here we've collected twenty cool playgrounds across the United States. What makes them cool? Everything from the design of the playground equipment to how eco-friendly they are. The CDC recommends that kids get 60 minutes of daily exercise to achieve and maintain a healthy weight (and adults too!), but we figure 60 minutes is the minimum you'll want to spend when you visit these play spaces.

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