“The nation is in the grip of a cradle to grave inactivity crisis at the moment and 37,000 people will pass away prematurely this year because they haven’t led an active lifestyle. Parks are absolutely fundamental assets that are key to breaking down the barriers to activity that people face.”
This week, ukactive’s Strategic Projects Director, Will Smithard, voiced his concerns over the future of public parks in the UK to a select government committee. This came off the back of a ‘future of public parks inquiry’ that was launched in July this year with councils now under enormous financial pressures and with no legal obligation to fund and maintain public parks.
Park funding has dramatically fallen from £3.1m to £2.6m over the last two years causing these precious community resources to be at threat.
Parks still remain one of the few spaces where the general public can embrace active outdoor fun at no cost. The threat to the future of our parks is a threat to our bid to overcome the inactivity crisis of today.
They are the setting where a large number of families will forge some of their fondest memories but although many families still love to venture out to their local parks, this trend is witnessing a drastic decline with the rise of indoor facilities such as gyms, children’s indoor adventure playgrounds etc. beginning to take precedent.
These venues are no doubt superb places to keep active but they come at a cost & by no means do they come near to the serene & natural backdrop that a park can offer.
Public parks can offer so much for the long-term health of any family but just as importantly they can be a place for so much enjoyment. That’s why we at Fit For Sport have come up with a few simple, achievable and sustainable ways to make the most of your trips to the local park. Give them a try:
1- Running – It’s the simplest way to get fit. You don’t need to be sporty or very well coordinated and running amongst the beautiful surroundings of a park will only add to the pleasure.
2- Walking - Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that’s easy, free and beneficial to everyone’s long term health. A leisurely stroll taking in the sites, smells & sounds of nature will benefit both mind and body.
3- Playing sports/games – Parks offer vast spaces to roam free which are hard to find in most cities in the UK nowadays. Bring a football, bat and ball or whatever you enjoy playing and embrace the open space with family or a group of friends.
4- Take a bike ride – Cycling in large parks with picturesque routes can be a really satisfying form of exercise, as well as being a cheap and pollution-free means of getting about, it can really improve lower body strength.
5- Discovery Day - Dedicate one day a week where you as a family dare to try a new form of active fun in the park, something you've never tried before, it could be as simple as coming up with alternative routes & parks to walk, run or cycle through.
6- Collect souvenirs upon your travels - Go that extra mile by collecting some of the colourful autumn leaves, conkers or whatever it may along your journey. When you return home create some artistic collages, be as imaginative as you can as it's a great way to retain positive memories of your experiences.
7- Outdoor gyms - More and more are being built in local parks throughout the country and although they may not boast the technology of the archetype indoor gym equipment, they are completely free and most even have child friendly stations to boot.