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Paul serves as the Community Impact Manager of United Way of Rock River Valley.

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Fun in the Sun: How Parks Improve Community Health

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Spending time outside is well-documented for its health benefits among health professionals, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In fact, you are bombarded with an endless array of learning opportunities and mental health-boosting nutrients every time you step outdoors, but these benefits are easy to overlook. Take a closer look at some of the exciting ways parks can help improve community health too.

Parks Help You Save Money.

With the exception of state parks that may charge for entry, parks provide an endless resource for socialization without the financial burdens of other entertainment. While saving money might not seem like a major benefit, free parks can help families struggling with putting food on the table or meeting financial responsibilities.

Community Health Benefits From Park-Based Community Gardens.

A community garden is another tool to help individuals in need grow both physically and mentally. Community gardens located in parks can help provide a meal during the harvest, and it encourages a healthy diet. This means fewer health problems later in life as well.

Park Events Teach Critical-Thinking Skills.

Events, such as obstacle courses or even engineering competitions for children, in parks help foster critical-thinking skills. These events help young children learn more about the world and how to overcome challenges. In fact, United Way of Rock River Valley’s Born Learning Trail provides parents and guardians with educational games via signs on trails in Rockford or Machesney Park. Parents can even take a photo of the signs to play the learning games at home or in other parks as well.

Spending More Time in Parks May Help Prevent Obesity.

Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are major health risks today, and the risk of obesity is even higher among children who spend most of their time indoors. Going to a park means children can play, exercising simultaneously. Even spending a few minutes walking around a park can help prevent heart disease and other chronic health conditions later in life. Moreover, the benefits of exercise extend to all age groups, provided your physician approves of your exercise regimen. Therefore, spending time outdoors could help lower your future health costs and improve the overall health of your community.

Sunshine Will Put You in a Better Mood.

Exposure to sunlight triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, reports Healthline. This hormone boosts your mood and plays a role in preventing depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Meanwhile, direct sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D in the skin, which improves mood and bone health.

Take Advantage of the Community Health Benefits in Parks Today.

The only barrier to reaping the benefits of parks is you. You have to get out and see what is available in your area. Of course, remember to bring sunblock and plenty of water. If you’d to learn more about other fun ways to help boost community health in your area, check out these volunteer opportunities at United Way of Rock River Valley online volunteer center today.



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