Tag Archives: obesity epidemic

Recreation Saves Lives and Cities


Updated: 14 October 2018, Marc Woodard

Today’s cities compete for residents and business by offering state of the art recreation facilities services and programs, developed parks and green-way trail systems, safe walkways and open green space and for good reason. It is the tremendous economic, social, well-being and fit healthy benefits these recreational amenities bring to community. Once people relate to these benefits their more likely to value, support and demand these things of city leaders.

I’ve known for years, when children are involved in daily playtime activities and organized sport they grow up valuing and prioritizing these things. Then share those experiences and memories with their children. It is also well documented by medical professionals kids need structured playtime to physically and cognitively grow into happy and healthy productive adults. And when recreational access to healthy activities is limited in schools and city neighborhoods sedentary habits, drug addiction, teenage crime and abnormal behavioral problems increase.

“The Center for Disease and Control reports obesity now affects 1 in 6 children and adolescents in the United States.

A national health risk trend parents are also concerned about for good reason is childhood obesity. It is said by many health experts childhood obesity and health disparity has reached epidemic proportions. The Center for Disease and Control reports obesity now affects 1 in 6 children and adolescents in the United States. It is widely known obesity has a direct connection to diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological disease including cancer, etc.

“Public recreation centers now educate our children on healthy lifestyle, not our schools [Surgeon General Dr. Murthy].”

Communities that recognize these health and behavioral risk connections are calling for more structured recreational activities and nurturing places for children to attend outside of public school yards. Parents seek safe, structured and affordable after school programs to reduce these risks. Active adults are also drawn to city recreational amenities but for different reasons.

“Active adults are also drawn to city recreational amenities but for different reasons.”

During the NRPA (National Recreation and Parks Association) 2015 conference, the US Surgeon General Dr. Murthy stated public community recreation centers must strive to provide fit healthy lifestyle programs and activities for all demographics. He also called to action to create a nation of walkers with connected wheel chair emphasis in design within a walkable community where everyone could participate in exercise activity.

He also described how public recreation centers now educate our children on healthy lifestyle, not our schools. City recreation is now the policy maker in partnership with city leaders, especially as health and recreational access disparity grows.

And when cities lack public recreation facilities families look elsewhere to find them and even relocate to meet long term child development and active adult needs.

Families with children aren’t the only demographic demanding more of city recreation services and programs. The boomer population being the largest demographic has the resources to make or break affordable and sustainable city services for communities.

Active adults [senior citizens] living without children want more public recreation programs. But for different reasons then families with young children.

As a fit healthy lifestyle consultant and passion for city recreation I’ve attended multiple National League of City Conferences (NLC) in Washington D.C., and National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) and Oregon Recreation and Parks Association (ORPA) conferences. It is very clear city recreation saves lives [Dr. Murthy 2015] and sustains economic, political and social culture and affordable city services – through civic outreach and engagement opportunities by city leaders.

Through community recreation, events and activities are the opportunities to engage the public to find out what city priorities and goals they’ll support. When cities use public recreation opportunities as a feedback mechanism – it is quickly determined what people need, want and will support within the city projects, planning and budget process.

I regress. Saving lives is a pretty clear concept from a recreational point of view.

That is – fit healthy activities for active adults …

And safe-supervised kid’s space and place to hang out with friends; and offer age appropriate playtime activities and social networking to make face-to-face connections – which supports: fit healthy habits, moral values, community collaboration and involvement parents want for their children in becoming the next productive leaders of tomorrow.

But how does recreation save cities?

Top reason active adults relocate: “A need to live in a more recreationally enriched area.”

Consider the following insight.

There is a growing trend of adults who live very active lifestyles and want centralized city recreation programs within a reasonable distance from where they live. Which include multi-use indoor swimming pools, aerobics, yoga, exercise room, well-being and fitness classes, pickle ball, self-defense, arts, crafts and hobby and social events space etc., the list goes on.

Senior citizens also want to be referred to and categorized as active adults [forever ageless]. On average active adults spend $40,000 per year discretionary income. Studies show they spend a lot of this income on recreational activities [ORPA 2016]. And by far represent the largest volunteer population in cities that support libraries, police, schools and city recreation programs, parks and trail systems.

“On average active adults spend $40,000 per year discretionary income.”

Cities need to find ways to retain and attract more of the active adult community because of their economic impact on cities. They represent the largest demographic with the greatest discretionary income holdings.  Keeping active adults encouraged and interested to stay contributes significantly to the economic viability and affordability of city living.

The top 3 reasons people move away from a previous location: 1) A need to live in a more recreationally enriched area. 2) Get away from cold weather. When families and seniors live in cold environments they look for accessible and convenient indoor public use recreation facilities. 3) Live in an area with a plethora of public recreation programming opportunities for active adults and families. [ORPA 2016].

“Dollars that stay in communities sustain a quality of affordable city services for everyone.”

The best way to illustrate the financial impact active adults have on communities is by painting a relatable financial and sustainable city services picture. For example if 100 active-retired adults remain residents that retains $4m dollars of discretionary income spent within the city boundaries. Recall on average active adults spend $40,000 per year discretionary income.

Those dollars support economic development, small business and other sustainable city services connected to city fees & taxes, etc. Hence, dollars that stay in communities sustain a quality of affordable city services for everyone.

Providing for the next generations recreational needs must be a competitive city priority. Especially if it is to remain healthy, sustainable and a place people want to stay and call home.

When cities provide for the recreational needs of a community, it creates a healthy place people want to live, work, play and age in place.

The big take away is when city leaders value, prioritize and invest in city recreation, everyone in community wins and those fit healthy benefits will sustain cities by the next generation to age in place.

Marc Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. Is a member of the Tigard City Council. He is a strong proponent of City involvement in providing recreational opportunities for its residents. 2018 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org

Why Should You be Concerned about Triglycerides?

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailQ.   What are Triglycerides, should I be concerned?   I received my blood test last week and my triglyceride count was 184.  I was told this is average for my age.  I also had another friend of mine tell me this is high.  I’m not sure I understand what this means to my health.  Can you help provide a little insight?

A.    In a world where everyone is pinched for time; meal preparations within most family units now rely heavily on processed foods for convenience.  Our country has an obesity epidemic in mass proportions occurring especially seen within our children.  It is my opinion triglycerides should be as concerning to an individual that watches their cholesterol intake.  If you are concerned about your cholesterol also take stock of your triglyceride count.   Before I answer your question directly, let me provide a brief outline of what triglycerides represent to our health and why we should care about them.

Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood much like cholesterol.   Neither one of these fats can dissolve in the blood.  Both fats use lipoproteins to circulate these fats throughout the body to be used by the metabolism.  Cholesterol function is to build cells and various hormones.  Triglyceride function is to provide the body with energy.   However, too much (high levels) of either of these blood fats for long periods of time create health risk and disease.  High triglycerides like cholesterol is thought to cause, or contribute to hardening of the arteries, or increasing the artery wall thickness (atherosclerosis).  Most of us know these conditions can lead to stroke, heart attack and heart disease.  High triglycerides also may trigger diabetes,  or create disease in the thyroid, liver and kidney.  Suspect you may have high triglyceride levels in your blood if you have too much fat around the waist.  “More often than not,” obesity and disease have a direct correlation with high triglycerides, high cholesterol, High blood sugar (glucose) and high blood pressure.  Check your “health risk” to potential disease by entering your weight/height into our fitness calculator at our healthblog page tab (click on the Fitness Calculator Link).

Without a blood test to indicate your level of triglycerides, one may suspect an elevation of the two blood fats if you typically over consume without regard to food intake.  This is not to say one consumes more, or less fatty, or cholesterol type foods.  Blood counts could be inverted.  In other words, you may watch your cholesterol, but because of other food choices, or hormone inefficiencies, consumption of triglycerides in your foods, or hormones don’t store blood fats adequately which can create a constant elevation of  triglycerides above normal levels (hypertriglyceridemia).

Although I believe your triglyceride levels appear decent opposed to many other counts I have seen, the normal level within the medical community sees a normal triglyceride level to be less than 150mg/dl.   Your count of 184 is considered “Borderline High 150 to 199 mg/dl.  High 200 to 499mg/dl, Very High 500mg/dl or above. Note:  Prescriptions can elevate your triglyceride levels, such as birth control pills, diuretics, steroids and breast cancer drug Tamoxifen, etc. 


 1.  Maintain “Ideal Body Weight,” Use our Fitness Calculator at home site to determine your IBW.

2.  Reduce excess calorie consumption, especially baked goods, processed foods, sugar, white flour. 

3.  Reduce trans fats found in many baked goods, cooking, crackers, chips, snack cakes etc.  Note – Just because a product states low trans fat there is still trans fat in most of these types of foods!  Even low level trans fat consumption could increase risk of disease.

4.  Avoid Alcohol.

5.  Exercise aerobically at least 30 minutes daily.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2008 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing, www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.