Tending the Path to Wellness
As human animals, there are things we need to live our healthiest lives. The right amount of sleep. A healthy variety of foods. Movement. Time outside. Quality time spent with others.
But, unfortunately, the way our culture is currently set up, the vast majority of us are missing out on many of these needs. We don't always have enough time to sleep the right number of hours. We try to save time and eat unhealthy processed and "fast" foods. We skip out on exercise. We spend too many hours indoors, sitting in chairs. We waste time surfing the web or gazing blearily at "social" media instead of meeting up and having meaningful interactions with other human animals.
Add it all up, and is it any wonder we face varying health crises? Our physical health suffers. Our mental health suffers. Our emotional health suffers.
Like everyone else, I also fall victim sometimes to the too-busy syndrome and skip out on the things that keep me healthy. But, like many, I try to do better. When all else fails, I still try to get outside and walk. Every day. I call it "getting into the animal body." And I'm grateful to live in a place with such easy access to trails and parks that make it simple to get what I need, at least in this respect.
The infrastructure and support systems that lie behind our parks, recreation, sports and fitness facilities may often go unnoticed by many Americans, but the people who keep these systems up and running (that's you!) have been quietly and consistently working behind the scenes to help address many of the cultural problems that keep us from being our healthiest human-animal selves.
Screen time. Economic inequality. Inequities in education. Climate change. The need to build community. The need for inclusiveness. Recreation, sports and fitness professionals hold at least some of the keys to unlocking the door to help us move past these problems.
So, when I read about new innovations in the myriad fields that make up this industry, I admit, I tend to get a little excited.
This month, it was our story on multigenerational playgrounds (see page 30) that lifted my mood. Constantly on the lookout for new ways to encourage kids to play, playground manufacturers are on the cutting edge—creating new and innovative play spaces that encourage not only healthy physical activity, but also learning and educational development, social interaction and inclusiveness.
Anything that gets us out of our tunnel-vision-inducing day-to-day and gets us learning, moving and interacting with others has to be a good thing. Parks, recreation centers, sports fields and fieldhouses, pools and waterparks, splash play areas, playgrounds, fitness clubs—all of these places offer us a simple path past the bad habits and cultural norms that keep us from becoming our healthiest selves.
So, keep it up! Let's continue the good work, and continue to let people know that there's a fantastic world of options waiting out there for them.