Recreation and Health

Health and Liviability Kids with Bikes PARKS IMPROVE HEALTH AND LIVABILITY  

NRPA’s health and wellness initiatives are committed to the broad goal of cultivating healthier communities. Local park and recreation agencies play a unique and critical role in convening coalitions of community leaders focused on creating healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities. Growing evidence highlights a strong linkage between park systems and physical and mental health, youth development, social well-being, and economic vitality. Furthermore, increased physical activity and increased access to parks are an important part of the lifestyle solutions that address the upward trends in obesity and related chronic diseases. NRPA’s health and wellness programs – from creating healthy policies and environments, implementing park prescriptions, and addressing play deserts to providing nutritious meals to children and engaging youth in sports – support the mission of parks and recreation by promoting active living and healthy eating in communities across the country.

Our programs have made great impacts:

  • 26,000,000: Healthy meals served through NRPA's Serving Communities program to increase the nutrition of low-income children in 42 communities  
  • 21,000,000: Americans touched by NRPA’s work in building healthier communities 
  • 400,000: People impacted by traffic safety improvements
  • 380,000: People impacted by tobacco free parks in eight communities
  • 236,700: People impacted by new healthy food policies
  • 152: Schools that adopted new or improved wellness policies
  • 150: Children that participated in free swimming lessons as a result of support from the National Recreation Foundation
  • 25: Schools implemented Safe Routes to School initiatives in five communities 
  • 18.5: Miles of new or improved multi-purpose path/trails developed over four communities 

For more information on these programs and the communities that NRPA supports, please contact Zarnaaz Bashir, Director of Strategic Health Initiatives, at or 703-858-4746.