Parks + Movement
People who have more access to green environments, such as parks and trails, tend to walk and be more physically active than those with limited access. The closer people live to a park and the safer they feel in the park, the more likely they are to walk or bike to those places and use the park for physical activity.
People are more likely to be physically active when they live near a public park. Walking, running, cycling, playing sports, or taking advantage of a playground or a splash pad.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
You can use the following strategies to encourage physical activity in your community:
Design communities that support safe and easy places for people to walk, bike, wheelchair roll, and do other physical activities.
- Work with a local coalition to locate and improve parks, trails, and recreational facilities near homes, schools, worksites, and other places where people regularly spend time. Consider using mapping tools to assess the location and quality of current parks (see Resources below).
- Work with communities to get their input on how to create or improve local recreation areas and green spaces. Use welcoming designs that represent all community members. Consider design elements like walking loops to promote activity, benches where people can take breaks, or shade for cooling and sun shelter.
- Increase access points to recreation areas and green spaces or locate them along public rights of way so they are more accessible to community members.
- Work closely with local planning and transportation departments to build and maintain sidewalks, crosswalks, bike racks, bike paths, and shade trees, as well as routes within and between parks, trails, and other key destinations.
- Work with local planning and transportation departments to update city policies to include goals designed to increase access to park, trails, and recreational facilities. For example, a city might require that new developments include green space.
- Work with community partners and municipal departments to set up shared-use agreements to increase public access to places to be physically active. These places may include school yards, municipal building grounds, or university pools and training facilities.
- Consider closing parks to motor vehicles and opening streets to pedestrians in and around parks.
Promote equitable park programs and policies that make it safe and easy for residents to be physically active, regardless of their age, race, income, ability, or disability.
- Offer inclusive programs that are based on the needs of the community and address barriers, including physical limitations, safety concerns, cultural preferences, and costs.
- Promote equitable open streets and play streets to provide people with more spaces to be active.
- Partner with local organizations to bring inclusive community programs to existing parks, trails, and green spaces.
- Prioritize resources toward areas and populations that lack access to parks or other safe places to be physically active.
Educate people about the benefits of safe physical activity and places to be active.
- Provide wayfinding signs to help people find safe places to be active. These signs should include information about accessibility for people with mobility or other limitations.
- Use low-cost removable materials and equipment to create pop-up parks and show how traffic can be slowed (called traffic calming) along routes to parks. Get feedback from the community on ways to make permanent changes to improve park access and facilities.
- CDC, Parks, Recreation and Green Spaces