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Parks are incredibly versatile, fun areas for everyone in a community. They’re perfect for children who want to play on a playground, family or friends who want to have a picnic, or dog owners who want to take their pets on a walk. Besides being a fun location for community residents, parks indicate a lot about a community.

The ACSM American Fitness Index (AFI) considers a lot of factors about a community when evaluating its health and fitness, and the different implications of parks are one of the areas considered by the data report.

What parks say about a community:

Park-related expenditures How much a community spends on creating and maintaining parks suggests how dedicated that community is to providing safe and affordable places for its residents to be physically active.
Parkland as a percent of the community land area The amount of parks in comparison to the total land area of the community indicates whether or not there is a safe and affordable place conveniently located for residents of the community.
Percent of community that are within a 10 minute walk to a park
Number of dog parks in a community Dog parks are a specific type of park that suggest dog owners are walking with their dogs, a good source of fitness.

Parks are an extremely valuable asset for a community, and they should be considered with importance.

Need help improving parks?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Park Service (NPS) created a new tool to assist communities with parks. The Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook: A Tool for Planners, Parks and Recreational Professionals, and Health Practitioners is a guide to assist in the development and improvement of parks.

This tool emphasizes the health benefits of parks and includes five sections: community health profile, site information, site planning, park and trail system planning, and monitoring and evaluation.

Whether you are interested in learning more about parks and their implications regarding public health or you are an official involved in maintaining or developing parks, this tool is of great use to you. Even if you are just a regular park-goer, it is to your benefit to be knowledgeable of the parks in your community.

Next time you visit the park in your neighborhood, think about what it brings to your community.

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