National Recreation and Park Association’s Family Health & Fitness Day — celebrated the second Saturday in June each year — promotes the importance of parks and recreation in keeping communities healthy.
Agencies everywhere are encouraged to participate by inviting families to get active at their local park or recreation center, or by hosting an event, such as a health fair or family fun run. Members of the healthcare community are encouraged to participate, as well, even as sponsors.
Various research studies are confirming that community parks and recreation, green space and time outdoors is critical for creating healthy, active and sustainable communities. You can experience the benefits by visiting your community parks and recreation any time of the year, and especially on Family Health & Fitness Day.
In addition to visiting a park or recreation center, you can get involved in Family Health & Fitness Day by:
• Using the tagline, “Get Fit” With Parks and Recreation to promote your health and wellness programs and activities
• Highlighting NRPA’s Top 5 Ways to “Get Fit” With Parks and Recreation on your website, social media channels and promotional materials:
1. Take a Walk
2. Go for a Swim
3. Enroll in a Fitness Program
4. Create Your Own Exercise Routine
5. Play Outside
NRPA challenges everyone to “Get Fit” With Parks and Recreation by doing a minute of jumping jacks (regular or modified) with family and/or friends at a local park or recreation center.
Participants are encouraged to share photos and videos of the challenge online using #NRPAFamilyFitDay.
For additional information, visit www.nrpa.org/familyfitness.
Health and Wellness Benefits of Parks
Living close to parks and other recreation facilities is consistently related to higher physical activity levels for both adults and youth. Moreover, parks provide a connection to nature, which studies demonstrate relieves stress, tightens interpersonal relationships and improves mental health.
According to a poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association, 36 percent of Americans use a trail for hiking, running or walking to relieve stress, while 35 percent gather with family, friends or pets at a local park.
On average, children who live in greener environments weigh less than children who live in less green areas.
Between 2000 and 2012, more than 85 studies have been published that link parks to better physical and mental health.
In addition to all of these ideas from the National Recreation and Park Association, Washington State Parks offer free park days throughout the year. On these days visitors at state parks can get out and enjoy the park without having to pay a day use fee and without having a state park discover pass. Free State Park days remaining in 2019 are:
• June 8 – National Get Outdoors Day (State Parks and Fish & Wildlife free day)
• June 9 – Fishing Day (State Parks and Fish & Wildlife free day)
• Aug. 25 – National Park Service 102nd Birthday
• Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
• Nov. 11 – Veterans Day
• Nov. 29 – Autumn Day
Please note, free days apply only to day use (not overnight stays or rented facilities), A Discover Pass will still be required on these days to access lands managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Disclaimer: This column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.
The National Recreation and Parks Association. Family Fitness Day, June 2019 | National Recreation and Park Association. https://www.nrpa.org/events/family-fitness-day/. Accessed June 5, 2019.
State Park Free Days. State Parks Free Days | Discover Pass, WA – Official Website. https://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/136/State-Parks-Free-Days. Accessed June 5, 2019.