December 2017

Preventing Germs in Gyms: What Works?

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there were more than 36,000 health clubs in the United States in 2016. Furthermore, over 66 million Americans used a health club and more than 57 million were members of at least one athletic facility, which was an increase over previous years. And while these numbers are good news when it comes to Americans getting healthier, the downside is that there has also been a rise in the number of community-acquired infections (CAIs) in gyms.

Study: Laws Reduce Recurrent Concussions

New research, published in the American Journal of Public Health in October, shows that traumatic brain injury (TBI) laws are helpful in reducing the rate of recurrent concussions in high school athletes.

Grants Awarded for Urban Water & Wildlife Habitat Restoration

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) exists to protect and restore our nation's wildlife and habitats, directing public conservation dollars to pressing environmental needs and matching those investments with private contributions. And now they've announced 65 grant awards, earmarked for restoring urban waters and wildlife habitat.

November 2017

APSP University Launches New Certification Course

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) University is launching a new pool and spa certification course, based on extensive feedback from state and local health departments and industry participants.

New Series Aims to Empower Students With Healthy Habits

The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) recently introduced its first-ever Health Education Youth Empowerment Series to help students develop the skills they need to make decisions, and implement change in their lives and the lives of others.

US Club Soccer Puts Focus on Player Safety

US Club Soccer is a National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, made up of nearly 6,000 youth clubs across the country, boasting an impressive 500,000 participants and 70,000 registered coaches. And while they offer a variety of services, programming and resources, they believe that their most important responsibility is ensuring the health and safety of every young soccer player.

New Initiative Aims to Ensure All Have Access to Parks & Rec

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) officially launched the Parks for Inclusion Initiative at the 2017 NRPA annual conference in late September. NRPA will partner with Lakeshore and the Nation Center for Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) as part of a pledge to the Commit to Inclusion Campaign. Designed by the Partnership for Inclusive Health, the Commit to Inclusion Campaign aims to end exclusion of people with disabilities from physical activity and associated areas. NRPA and its partners will work to ensure that all people have access to the benefits of local parks and recreation facilities.

October 2017

L.A. Parks Earn Mostly Positive Report Card

While community parks in the city of Los Angeles received good grades for playgrounds, trails and gyms, restrooms scored lower, a C and below, in fact, based on maintenance and cleanliness, according to new report cards issued by L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin. The report cards took a look at community parks in Los Angeles and discovered that park users reported general satisfaction with their local parks, but many indicated that cleanliness and safety concerns deter them from using their community parks more.

Health Club Memberships Up, Led by Youth & Older Adults

It seems we hear a lot these days about how Americans are leading more sedentary lifestyles, with childhood obesity and early-onset diabetes rates on the rise. Therefore it's encouraging to learn that health club memberships have increased, with the largest growth happening in the youth and older adult markets. This information comes from the 2017 Health Club Consumer Report, released by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

Dallas Park Recognized With ASLA Award

Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre urban park in Dallas designed by OJB Landscape Architecture (OJB), recently earned the Award of Excellence for General Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). The park reconnects the city's downtown cultural district with the neighborhoods located to the north. Designed to reflect the district through its modern design, the park has bridged the eight-lane Woodall Rodgers Freeway, which had been a barrier between the downtown and uptown areas.

Adult Obesity Rates Leveling Off

The 14th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood John Foundation shows adult obesity rates to be leveling off or even declining in some states.

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom

Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is not only important to kids when they're young, but in the long-term as well. Exercise at a young age can promote lifelong health and well-being, potentially preventing various health conditions down the road. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that children between the ages of 6 and 17 get at least one hour of physical activity every day. Unfortunately, some schools have been forced to reduce—or eliminate altogether—physical education programs due to budget cuts, leaving many kids without the opportunity to get enough physical activity or even learn how to exercise properly.

September 2017

Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Development Continues

The Brooklyhn Waterfront Greenway, a 14-mile landscaped route that is physically separated from traffic and with separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, recently got additional planning help when the team leading the project hired professional services firm Dewberry, based in Fairfax, Va., for resilience services.

Louisville Splash 'n' Dash 5K Raises $35,000+ for Norton Children's Hospital

On August 5, hundreds of runners and walkers participated in the third annual Splash 'n' Dash 5k fundraiser to benefit Norton Children's Hospital. It also featured a kid-friendly 1k race and after-race family activities in the "Just-for-Kids Zone." A unique part of this annual event is that participants are able to choose which area of the hospital their donations go to. All who registered for the race also received an official T-shirt and their own personal fundraising page.

Philadelphia Eagles Go Green

When the Philadelphia Eagles unveiled Lincoln Financial Field in 2003, Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie was serious about making their new stadium sustainable—spearheading the team's Go Green program. They started with simple recycling initiatives, which have now grown to encompass elements of green energy production, energy and water conservation, recycling and composting, and reforestation and sustainability partnerships.

High School Sports Participation Up, Nearing 8 Million

For the 28th straight year, there has been increased participation in high school sports, now nearing the 8 million mark, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Based on figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia, the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,963,535. The increase of 94,635 participants from 2015-16 is the largest one-year jump in overall participation since the 2008-09 school year.

August 2017

Inside South Side High School's Redevelopment

South Side High School in Rockville Centre, N.Y., got a $45.9 million improvement, including athletic field redevelopment to accommodate multiple sports. Here's a look inside the redevelopment plan, from start to finish.

New Health Research Conducted at Special Olympics

Besides competing in the Special Olympics Oregon Summer State Games in early July in Corvallis, the more than 2,000 participating athletes also helped to advance research into the health of people with intellectual disabilities. Oregon State University hosted the Summer State Games, which featured sports such as track and field, bocce, golf and softball, with events split between Corvallis High School and the OSU campus.

Protect Players From Heat

Whether we like it or not, football season is suddenly upon us—signaling an end to our fleeting summer. But there are still plenty of potentially sweltering days left too, which is a concern for coaches and sports organizations whose teams practice and compete outdoors. Understanding heat and its detrimental effects is important, since heat kills around 113 people each year in the United States.

Tackling the Active Play Deficit

At the beginning of this summer, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) commissioned the 2017 Let's Play State of Play survey to determine just how much time children and tweens spend doing active play. The survey uncovered a larger deficit in activity than America has seen.

July 2017

Botanical Garden Partners With Businesses on Health

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's Healthy Employee Membership Program encouraged area businesses to get their employees outdoors instead of into the gym. The health benefits of nature are widely recognized, and DSBG feels that human resource leaders should consider their program an "alternative to corporate wellness."

Survey Examines Parents' View of Play

A new survey published by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) showed the importance of play behavior and parents' opinions about it.

Kids Swim Free in Tucson This Summer

On May 25, Council Member Paul Cunningham announced that kids 17 and younger will swim for free at 17 of the city’s 18 pools this summer. This desert community decided to test-drive this route of public service to serve the health and standard of living of their population.

June 2017

Building Communities to Encourage Physical Activity

In an effort to promote and increase physical activity among residents, the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends combined built environment intervention approaches. These approaches make physical activity simpler or more accessible by creating or updating various environmental characteristics in a community. The approaches combine new or enhanced transportation systems, such as bike trails or pedestrian paths, with new or enhanced land use design.

California Campus Converts Courts to Golf Practice Space

Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps athletic department in California recently completed the first phase of its on-campus golf practice facility. The facility, which was created on old tennis courts and includes six hitting cages, a bunker and a putting green, will be used by the school's varsity golf programs and physical education program.

Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems?

Minneapolis has the best park system in the United States, according to The Trust for Public Land's 6th annual ParkScore index. Minneapolis narrowly edged out cross-town rival Saint Paul to earn top honors for the second consecutive year. San Francisco climbed into third, pulling ahead of Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., largely due to improved access to basketball courts at schoolyards that are now open after hours and on weekends. Portland, Irvine, New York, Madison and Cincinnati rounded out the top 10.

May 2017

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids

During the "Week of Play," from April 23 to 29, The Carmax Foundation and KaBOOM! hosted 10 community events nationwide to bring play opportunities to the children of veterans and Active-Duty service members. Ten grants for creative playsets were provided to nonprofit organizations across the country that serve children specifically. Each grantee, from Seattle to Fayetteville, N.C., celebrated the receipt of these play sets through community events.

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game

USA Basketball will be operating 12 Open Court programs across the country in 2017, with a goal of providing kids a fun and safe place to get involved in free-play basketball and maybe even earn a few prizes. Learn more about the program and how your community can get involved.

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs

Health and physical educators from across the United States headed to Capitol Hill in April to push for full funding to support health and physical education programs in schools and professional development of teachers. This is in response to threats of cuts to federal funding of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads

Cheerleading is among the most popular sports for girls in the United States, with more than 400,000 high school cheerleaders, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. But the injury rate in the sport is high, leading the NFHS to revise rules for the 2017-18 season.

April 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions

In mid-March, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) announced the creation of an advocacy coalition to protect seasonal lifeguard staffing for commercial pools across the nation.

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks

Maybe your community is going to the dogs. The recent National Pet Owners Survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Association, tells us that the United States has over 54 million dog-owning households. And not surprisingly, off-leash dog parks have expanded by nearly 90 percent since 2007. And now, PetSafe Brand is promoting their Bark for Your Park grant program, which helps communities build, improve and maintain off-leash dog parks.

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency

The American Red Cross and aquatic engineering and design firm Counsilman-Hunsaker are teaming up to provide a new Aquatic Management Program. The new program will employ a team of aquatic operations specialists to design and implement comprehensive operational strategies and management solutions for new and existing facilities of all types and sizes to improve safety, efficiency and sustainability.

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding

For the third year in a row, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is collaborating with The Walt Disney Company to help fund local park improvement projects in 16 U.S. cities through the national Meet Me at the Park campaign.

March 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools

A doctoral student of analytical and environmental toxicology, Lindsay Blackstock, from the University of Alberta recently published findings that show people do indeed pee in public pools. Blackstock was able to determine signs of urine from trace amounts of acesulfame potassium in the water. This chemical compound is found in most artificial sweeteners.

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia

Some people are fascinated by digging up the past, in a most literal sense. And in Fairfax County, Va., anyone can join the corps of volunteers who work alongside historians and county archaeologists that comprise the Fairfax County Archaeological Research Team (CART). Volunteers can work in the lab researching and cataloging archaeological finds, or get their hands in the dirt working on archaeological digs in the field—all the while learning about their county’s history.

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage

A free scavenger-hunt activity in Greenville County, S.C., called Park Hop, is helping to inspire park usage. Research in the February 2017 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy, a peer-reviewed electronic journal established by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, revealed that Park Hop helped "community-collaboration between park agencies and positively influenced park usage, park discovery, time engaged in physical activity during park visits and perceptions of parks."

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years

Children across the country are reaping the benefits of a national out-of-school-time initiative aimed at improving childhood nutrition and increasing physical activity through local parks and recreation. Now in its third year, The National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Commit to Health campaign, which utilizes the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards first adopted by the National AfterSchool Association, has been implemented by 1,250 park and recreation sites nationally—with an impact on more than 228,000 youth enrolled in out-of-school-time programming.

February 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law

On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 former President Barrack Obama signed into law the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act. Also known as H.R 4665, this new law is the capstone of recent efforts by House representatives to increase the assessment of the outdoor recreation industries contribution to the United States’ Economy.

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball!

The first YMCA in America opened in Boston in 1851—seven years after the organization’s founding in London—with one of their original tenets being physical fitness. In 1891, Canadian James Naismith went to Springfield, Mass., to become the physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School there. That winter, his boss—Dr. Luther Gulick—tasked him with creating an indoor game to provide an athletic distraction for his rowdy class that was confined indoors due to the harsh winter.

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat'

A new study published in the Frontiers in Public Health revealed that about 76 percent of the world’s population—including athletes—are “overfat,” a condition described in the study as having sufficient excess body fat to impair health.

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share

A new study from Market Force Information found that consumers prefer their local YMCA or YWCA over all other national gym chains, and many gym-goers are planning to switch gyms in the next three months.

January 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status

In December, Georgia saw one of its state parks designated as a Gold-Tier International Dark-Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. Stephen C. Foster State Park joins Big Bend National Park in Texas and Death Valley National Park in Nevada as one of the best places in the world for contemplating the cosmos.

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness

Texas Tech has introduced the Raider Escape Room, a functional training, personal training, and athletic and sports-conditioning facility.

Preventing Pool Closings

Pool closings have been an issue for parks and recreation facilities over the years, with some of the reasons for the closures being that communities have had to make budget cutbacks or have delayed necessary upgrades to their pools. But there are steps you can take to keep your pool operational.

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions

A majority of U.S. households—82 percent—visited an attraction in 2015, according to new research from PGAV Destinations. The research offers insight into why some guests become members and season pass holders.