Celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month

As we move into the summer months, the importance of parks, recreation and related services remains vital. Although the weather is warmer, staying active – whether with indoor or outdoor activities – supports our physical as well as emotional/mental health in a positive way.

Since 1985, America has celebrated July as Parks and Recreation Monthan initiative of the non-profit National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

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The seven main benefits that parks and recreation areas bring to a community and the ecosystem as a whole are listed below and individually explained in detail during the presentation, which is available online at getomnify.com.

Lafayette Heritage Trail Park

1) Social and individual benefits

2) Family and community ties

3) Parks as spaces for mentoring programs

4) Encourage children’s activity

5) Helps build safer neighborhoods

6) Economic advancement

7) Environmental benefits

Florida Trail hikers travel the Aucilla Road beneath their feet and past scenic wells in this 2016 file photo.

So what are some of the health benefits of engaging in recreational activities?

Two major benefits (among many others) are the potential for reduced risk of heart disease and stroke and a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure.

Physical activity can also help to:

  • Encourage social interaction
  • Improve concentration and learning
  • Increase personal confidence and self-awareness
  • Reduce feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Improve quality of life

Resilience and recreation

Moey Hewitt performs a trick as she roller skates in the new Cascades Trail Skateable Art Park during its grand opening on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 in Tallahassee, Florida.

Going to the park frequently and being active can reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, help prevent obesity, and decrease feelings of depression. The US National Recreation and Park Association website states that:

  • Active users of public parks have a lower body mass index
  • People who visit parks for long periods of time (an hour or more) have significantly lower systolic blood pressure
  • Park users who are more physically active and who communicate frequently with friends during their leisure time are less likely to report feeling depressed
  • People who have better access to parks, visit parks more frequently, and engage in physically active behaviors in parks also have fewer doctor visits
  • Playing in parks also helps children develop and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, improve self-esteem

A good tip to seriously consider is to leave your technology at home, or at least turn it off. There’s nothing quite like cooking outside or sitting by the fire. Resist the urge to bring modern conveniences with you. Check messages only when absolutely necessary.

Mother and son Sheryl and Brady Barlow enjoy a mid-afternoon stroll on the JR Alford Greenway on the first day of autumn on Tuesday September 22, 2020.

Also check out the Visitor Center for ideas for hiking, bird watching, fishing, kayaking, or other activities in the park. There may be options for things to do that you hadn’t considered or weren’t aware of.

Tallahassee and the Leon/Big Bend County area has a multitude of government, non-profit, and outdoor organizations and groups to help residents discover and enjoy certain broader health benefits. at the same time. Some resources are provided at the end of this column.

Please take this opportunity to discover our parks and other recreational activities as well as participate in our many groups that may be of interest to you. Being proactive can lead to better health and a better quality of life for everyone involved.

Information and resources

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all can experience our heritage. Its website can be accessed at nps.gov/index.htm.

A link to information on sports and recreation services in Tallahassee is at talgov.com/parks/ParcsAccueil.

Information about the Leon County Parks and Recreation Department responsible for maintaining green spaces as well as a myriad of other activities can be accessed at cms.leoncountyfl.gov.

A large Florida association with a local affiliate is the Florida Trail Association (FTA). A detailed list of all 18 statewide affiliates with detailed information, including our own Apalachee chapter, is available at floridatrail.org.

Marc Mahoney

Mark Mahoney has been a Peace Corps volunteer for over four (4) years in Latin America, has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN) for over 35 years, and has completed postgraduate studies in Public Health at Columbia University . He can be contacted at [email protected]

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