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July is Park and Recreation Month, and with the open outdoor space that our local parks and recreation areas have to offer visitors, now is a great time to get outside (while socially distancing, of course!).

Since 1985, Americans have celebrated Park and Recreation Month in July to promote the importance parks and recreation has in health and well-being, conservation and social equity, and to recognize the more than 160,000 full-time park and recreation professionals, along with hundreds of thousands of part-time and seasonal workers and volunteers, that maintain our local, state and community parks.

According to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), 83% of U.S. adults believe that visiting their local parks, trails, and open spaces has been essential for their mental and physical well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate Park and Recreation Month:

  • Exercise in the shade: Not only does evidence show that parks are cooler than their surrounding cities, but they also contribute to an overall urban cooling effect. Parks are a great place for those with osteoarthritis (OA) to complete low-impact, moderate-intensity physical activity that includes aerobic, balance, and muscle-strengthening components.
  • #ThankAParkAndRecPro: The nation’s park and recreation professionals are on the frontline in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness, substance use disorder, the obesity epidemic, and other chronic health issues.
  • Advocate for more parks: Physical activity and exercise are at the core of the mission of our nation’s vast array of parks, green spaces, sports and recreation facilities, and community centers. Expanding this incredible resource to benefit adults with arthritis can be as simple as sharing information – in brochures, news alerts, and social media-on the benefits of physical activity for people with arthritis.

Tips from ncparks.gov on staying safe while visiting parks:

  • Maintain a social distance of 6 feet, regardless of the behavior of others.
  • Step to the side of a trail, wait at the end of a bridge, and do not enter the restrooms until others have cleared out.
  • Touch as few surfaces as possible. Wash or sanitize your hands before, during, and after your visit.
  • Do not share equipment like phones or cameras with other visitors.
  • If the park seems crowded when you arrive, come back another time.

Join in celebrating Park and Recreation Month this July. Find the park nearest to you and read more about North Carolina State Park reopening plans.

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