Americans Agree: Recreation Centers Play an Important Role in Communities Nationwide

(October 12, 2017)

Healthy living classes, programming for both children and older adults, nature-based activities, and arts and crafts top the list of needed services

Ashburn, Va. (Oct. 12, 2017) — As community needs continue to grow and expand, so do the programs and services offered by local park and recreation agencies. A recent survey conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) found that most people agree recreation centers should offer a wide variety of services, such as healthy living classes, programming directed toward older adults, nature-based activities, arts and crafts opportunities, access to computers and the internet, inclusive facilities for all abilities and needs, and health clinics. This is in addition to the traditional services offered by park and recreation agencies, including fitness centers, out-of-school time programming and aquatic facilities.

More than half of all Americans (51 percent) think recreation centers should offer healthy living classes, such as fitness or nutrition classes. Furthermore, nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) think recreation centers should offer programming directed toward older adults. Americans also think recreation centers should offer nature-based activities for all ages (45 percent) and access to computers and the internet (43 percent). Likewise, a considerable number of Americans think recreation centers should provide inclusive facilities for people of all abilities and needs (41 percent), as well as health clinics (38 percent). Baby boomers are more likely than millennials to want inclusive facilities and health clinics.     

“Parks and recreation as we know it is changing,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA president and CEO. “Moving forward, it’s important that our agencies consider these non-traditional offerings — providing programs and services that meet the individual needs of the communities they serve and more.”    

A large majority (80 percent) of park and recreation agencies offer fitness enhancement classes and health and wellness education. This includes programs such as Commit to Health, which supports the implementation of Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) standards at local park and recreation agencies across the country. Seventy-six percent of agencies offer specific senior programs, including Walk with Ease, Active Living Every Day and Fit & Strong! arthritis-appropriate, evidence-based interventions. Nearly 60 percent of agencies offer programs for people with disabilities.

This poll is part of NRPA’s Park Pulse, a continuing series of monthly surveys that gauge the public’s opinion on topics relating to parks and recreation. To explore previous Park Pulse survey results, visit   

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here. 

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit   


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit