Ahhh… The Great Outdoors

November 3rd, 2011 | By admin No Comments

provided by Joe Barr, recreation superintendent for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, highlighting scholarly research prepared for the National Recreation and Park Association

Yes, the great outdoors. Great for fun and great for your health, too. And studies suggest that the more we visit local parks, the more fit we are.

A five-city survey has confirmed that 38% of people over 50 years old said they used a park at least once a week. So these oases are more than just pretty places.. Young people benefit, too. One study showed that adolescent girls do 17 more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every week for each park within a half mile of home. And each additional $10 per person that the government invests in parks and recreation was associated with a third-of-a-day more vigorous exercise by girls every week. Such state spending also drove more strength-building exercise for boys and girls.

In 1975, Pima County was way ahead of the pack as its officials planned the first off-street, shared-use path. A couple of years later, the Old Spanish Trail Bicycle and Hiking Trail was completed. Since then, Pima County has prepared five river park master plans:

  • Santa Cruz River
  • Canada del Oro
  • Tanque Verde Creek
  • Pantano River Park
  • Rillito River Park

Once complete, these parks will account for over 139-miles of off-street shared use paths. The Urban Loop is the largest facility of its kind in the Southwest, and there are very few facilities around the United States that rival the Urban Loop. It is not only an attractive and well-loved community amenity; it is fast becoming a major economic driver for our region.
The Urban Loop, along with other very intentional efforts to add park and other green spaces in Pima County, should prevent some of the more than $8,000-per-year of health care costs per person.

Here at MOVE, we want to encourage our city, county, state and national leaders to continue being creative about keeping parks in our budget instead of trimming park funds to cut the budget fat. Because parks actually cut our fat!

Find the full 35-page Geoffrey Godbey and Andrew Mowen report, “The Benefits of Physical Activity Provided by Park and Recreation Services: The Scientific Evidence,” online at http://bit.ly/urban-report

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