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Parks for Health

TPL President Will Rogers pens a piece for the Huffington Post, linking parks to health, a connection that many studies have already made but one that is not always recognized. An excerpt:

These results come as a little-noticed provision in proposed federal health care legislation would provide billions for park infrastructure improvements. The health benefits of parks are well established, especially when parks are easily accessible and well-maintained.

Some new parks even offer the type of exercise equipment found in expensive health clubs — a real benefit in a down economy when it may be difficult to afford a gym membership. Over the last few years, TPL has helped to create 10 such Fitness Zones in Los Angeles parks. A new one in the South Whittier neighborhood was dedicated this month.

Increasingly cities are creating new parks and playgrounds as part of comprehensive planning strategies, as anchors for economic development, and — in my mind the best reason — to provide a little breathing space and nature in neighborhoods that are lacking safe, close-to-home places to play.

By directly linking park improvements with health care, congressional legislators are signaling their understanding that health care reform cannot happen in a vacuum and must include strategies to encourage healthy lifestyles. An investment in parks and playgrounds–especially local parks and especially in cities where eighty percent of Americans live — is one of the best ways to do this.

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