National Parks & Recreation Month
The Many Benefits of Public Parks
Parks bring a wealth of "remember when?" memories of the days we've spent in public parks, some of them groaners but the majority bringing enjoyment and laughter. The entire month of July is a great time to share them with family and friends. It's National Parks and Recreation Month.
Today's parks have "grown up" and offer a wealth of facilities and activities for all. Every year since 1985, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has encouraged cities and towns to launch programs highlighting the benefits of being outdoors in parks, enjoying the many opportunities to stay active and to appreciate social engagement with others.
Over the last several years, parks have been enlarging and improving their community offerings, from playgrounds and ball fields to hiking and biking trails. Some even have dog parks. Swimming pools are popular and some parks have lakeside beaches and boating faculties along with their picnic areas. Frisbee golf is another popular activity.
Many parks have beautiful gardens and extensive play areas for children.
During July, they offer special events, which may include free craft classes, pool parties, guide-led nature walks, safety clinics, treasure hunting games using GPS-enabled devices, and volunteer opportunities.
This year, the theme is "I Love My Park & Recreation." The National Park and Recreation Association suggests localities promote participation by its citizens by asking for new ways to have fun in its parks through communal comments and photographs that can be featured in posters, ads, or at the sites themselves.
Consider walking in the park with your spouse or kids every day during this month. Take your binoculars or camera along so you can take candid photos or become a bird watcher.
NRPA lists several health facts that should get you off the couch.
Those who actively use public parks on a regular basis:
* have a lower body mass index (BMI)
* have significantly lower systolic blood pressures
* are less likely to report feeling depressed, and
* make fewer visits to the doctor.
Besides having fun, you'll collect new memories to share in the future.