It was during a 2015 NRPA (National Recreation and Parks Association) conference I attended and listened intently to key note speakers that stated in more ways than one city recreation saves lives but in different ways than police do. It will soon become obvious how city recreation is the goose capable of laying those lifesaving golden eggs within communities.
Hard working families and active adults know, regular engagement in physical activity is an essential component of healthy well-being aging. Physical activity improves physical function and provides social and mental health benefits that all contribute to improved quality of life for older adults. It is active adults who also seek health insurer’s reimbursement referrals to physical fitness programs that offer evidence-based benefits proven to decrease health risk (NRPA 2019).
Cities that plan for aging in place communities also make substantial investments in parks and recreational facilities for all ages. Why do they do this? Primarily because people need and want them. Some of the highest health risks, medical intervention and public safety costs occur within places that lack affordable and accessible public use and supervised recreation programs.
Parents through no fault of their own, who can’t afford pay-to-play sports and other after school activities unknowingly increase a child’s risk to a drug habit, obesity and related disease and/or finding trouble with the law, etc. It is true, when youth is provided after school activities of interest – juvenile theft, vandalism, drug use and other mischief decrease and purposeful lifestyles ensue. This can be validated through year-after-year police incident analysis, community health surveys, etc., and youth-to-adult success stories connected to city recreation.
These are key reasons business owners and active adults [boomers] and hard working families are drawn to communities that invest heavily in Park & Recreation (P&R) amenities. Quality public-recreation programs are cited as one of the top three reasons that business cite in relocation decisions in a number of studies.
Millennial’s and Generation X demographics also seek out the same public use recreation amenities and health and wellness benefits throughout all stages of life. â€œMillennials, whom we define as ages 20 to 35 in 2016, numbered 71 million, and Boomers (ages 52 to 70) numbered 74 million. Millennials are expected to overtake Boomers in population in 2019 as their numbers swell to 73 million and Boomers decline to 72 million. Generation X (ages 36 to 51 in 2016) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028 (Fry, 2018). http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/
Business and recreation professionals know communities that invest in public use space with coordinated recreation services and programs win aging in place healthy lifestyle recognition. Young adults looking to purchase their first home and raise families want safe neighborhoods with safe routes to school and supervised activities for children. Cities that fill recreation youth-gap activities are more attractive to parents raising children and seniors and business looking to live, work and play in safe places.
The largest demographic group today is still the boomers. Although a majority are on fixed incomes, it is they who need-want and will pay for affordable activities that enhance and benefit their health and wellbeing. The millennial and Generation X demographics is quickly increasing in numbers and surpassing the boomer population. Their active lifestyle expectations have been set by the boomers. They support aging in place and sustainable communities because they know those value-driven activities and shared experiences will be passed onto to their children and grandchildren.
City leaders successful at connecting the golden egg dots will reap the return-on-recreational aging in place investments for decades to follow. The multi-generational demand to live in communities like this continues to grow in popularity without any sign of slowing down. Which helps retain city tax base and sustain affordable core city services.
Good Health to You and Your Family.
Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET., is a Fit Healthy Lifestyle Consultant with MirrorAthlete Corp., and Former Tigard City Councilor. A strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2019 Copy right. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., “To learn more about MirrorAthlete and free monthly newsletter, visit: www.mirrorathlete.org.