Health and Wellness




Health and WellnessLeading the nation to improved health and wellness through parks and recreation.

America continues to feel the strain of a serious health crisis affecting adults and young alike. One in which we are plagued by poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy habits. But there is a solution with little to no cost and is available in nearly every town, city and community – local parks and recreation.

The scientific evidence is mounting that parks and recreation are building healthier communities and top health officials in the country – U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – validate that parks and recreation are a critical solution for our nation’s health epidemic.

Parks and recreation are enacting strategies focused on improving access to healthy food, increasing opportunities for physical activity, decreasing tobacco consumption, and so much more. The solutions they provide are making a real difference, like in Montgomery, AL, where leadership by the park and recreation agency has helped reduce the rate of obesity from 34 to 30.9 percent, taking the county from the Most Obese in 2010 to 15th in 2012.

The time is now to demonstrate how parks and recreation are effectively able to create healthy and prosperous communities. Watch NRPA’s President and CEO Barbara Tulipane, CAE talk about how parks and recreation can embrace leadership in health and wellness.

Position Statement

Resources for Health and Wellness

Quantifying the Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity and Health

SOPARC ReportBecause public parks contribute to health and well-being, primarily by serving as an important venue for physical activity, it is in the best interests of park administrators to have a method to measure this contribution. While parks offer health benefits beyond physical activity, physical activity can be objectively measured and is an excellent way to demonstrate the value of parks. Learn more in Quantifying the Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity and Health. Download Quantifying the Contribution of Public Parks to Physical Activity and Health.

Health and Wellness Poster

Health and Wellness Poster
Download a PDF copy of our Health and Wellness poster to display at your agency or share with the public. (High Resolution version or Low Resolution version)

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program

United States mapThe County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program is a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to measure the health of nearly all counties in the nation and rank them within states. The Rankings are compiled using county-level measures from a variety of national and state data sources. These measures are standardized and combined using scientifically-informed weights.


Interactive Map Explores Health Trends in the United States

USA MapThe Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, created this interactive map in which you can explore health trends in the United States at the county level for both sexes in life expectancy, hypertension, obesity and physical activity. This research helps provide a foundation for informed decision-making and community action toward eating healthier and increasing physical activity.

Explore more health and wellness resources.

Parks & Recreation Magazine: Health and Wellness Articles

Solving Summer Hunger
By Lucy Melcher
March 2015 Issue
Summary: Summer hunger for low-income children is a solvable problem, and park and recreation professionals are uniquely positioned to help.

Commit to Health: A Review of Year One
By Kellie May
February 2015 Issue
Summary: Are you committed?

Beating the Social Stigmas of Aging
By Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri, Ph.D., and David Lopez
January 2015 Issue
Summary: Senior athletes and students join forces in community health partnership.