Tag Archives: virus

How the Pandemic has Increased Demand for Outdoor Recreation


Literally every business sector, including indoor public and private recreational facilities and gyms have been required to socially distance and take protective actions against the virus. The pandemic has forever changed the way we live, work and play. The obvious marketplace impacts include empty office space deserts and small business closures. Like those business sectors, city Parks and Recreation (P&R) leaders will need to change their operations and services models if they hope to survive budget cuts. Before covid19, “recreation without walls” was growing in popularity. It will soon become a P&R’s department planning standard.

“Recreation without walls” is a term I first heard while attending a NRPA (National Recreation Parks Association) conference in 2016. I knew at that time, recreation leaders were looking to cut fixed facility costs and/or not invest in new facilities. Instead many expanded recreation activities outdoors within public parks, on school lands and other greenspace paid for by taxpayers.

Like the increase of tele-commuters working from home – consumer habits and behaviors show a strong preference towards recreational activities outdoors. City recreation providers are now making more use of publically owned lands to fill this demand. By adding more outdoor classes and activities under a picnic shelter, in a field, or temporary structure… expanding recreational opportunities for everyone is now possible and without the high costs associated with tax paid facilities.

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“Habits and behaviors are predictable and hard-to-change, once they change” [MirrorAthlete]. For instance, if you had a habit of exercising daily and now you can’t, how does this change your behavior? How many of you invested in home exercise equipment and cancelled your gym membership. Or now walk the trail systems to get your aerobic exercise, or use an outdoor fitness center. Do you think city planners are second guessing the need to build more office and indoor recreation space?

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There are 4 main reasons recreation without walls will continue growing in popularity and demand: (1) Tax paid, like private use facilities equipment and operational cost increases (2) Fear of future virus strains and culture shock motivates long-term lifestyle change (3) Public use outdoor recreation opportunities create economic, social and political multipliers that produce jobs, serve more underserved people and reduce taxpayer burden, etc. (4) “When markets shift dramatically, it takes another dramatic shift to reverse course.” [MirrorAthlete]

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Because of Covid19, a new way of thinking about public-private partnerships and expanding city recreation opportunities outdoors can be envisioned and implemented. This concept has been benefiting and creating equitable recreation opportunities for the underserved communities throughout the nation for years… It will only increase in demand and popularity as more people learn about it.

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 expanding recreation opportunities for everyone. 2020 copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., “To learn more about us and free monthly newsletter at: www.mirrorathlete.org.

City Recreation Reversing Inactivity Pandemic In Light of Covid-19


Updated: 4/6/2020 by Marc Woodard

Now more than ever people are attracted to walkable cities and community recreation facilities to help melt away body fat and get more fit. Although Covid-19 has currently shut down fitness, community and gym facilities, this has not changed the fact, people looking to move, stay active and get more fit are trending toward places that offer a safe environment and public use recreation amenities as top priorities. Cities with connected trail systems and developed parkways and recreation community centers rank high on the relocation and aging in place decision list.

Outside of Sheltering in place, we’ve learned, parents and active adults (seniors) want these recreation amenities and resources for their children as seen in recent city services surveys and studies. Local and National statistics show there is good reason communities are trending in this direction. Now more so than any other time in history.

“Design of play space for children as well as adults contributes substantially to childhood development and healthy social connections, other activities and well-being.” Dirksen Park Tigard, OR

The National Center for Health Statistics show more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity (NCHS 2015). Overweight conditions don’t just present a diabetes and heart disease risk for adults. There is also what some consider a near epidemic of childhood obesity cases growing nationwide. “Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) has obesity” (Center for Disease and Control 2017).

Another study shows when city urban designers and architects work together to improve human life, “design of urban environments has the potential to contribute substantially to physical activity and reduce the health burden of the global physical inactivity pandemic” (The Lancet, Volume 387, No. 10034, p2207-2217, 28 May 2016).

These statistics and other studies like them are resonating within the communities and elected leadership to help mitigate the national inactivity pandemic – through healthy city building. Whereas healthy lifestyle justice – [regardless of social or economic status] demands more city recreation facilities (amenities) and equal access for all… the public and it’s leadership is listening. Communities are becoming more fit healthy literate and positively influenced in support of increasing recreational amenities and fitness activities for public use and affordable access.

“When cities lack public recreation facilities families look elsewhere for those things…” (Woodard 2017)

As a former Tigard city councilor, I fully support Tigard’s strong vision to become the most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest. I also support their growing city recreation department. I understand how public use recreational amenities, activities and events motivates people to move more, increase fitness levels and improve health… which sustains well-being and keeps community positively connected.

I published an article Recreation Saves Lives and Cities. Within the article I detail how walkable communities and recreational facilities are valued from a public health, social, economic and sustainability city perspective.

These distinctions and importance can’t be emphasized enough especially since active adults now demand more public recreation activities and community gathering facilities for them and their children. “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” (Woodard 2017).

Chehalem Park & Recreation District, Aquatic & Fitness Center, Newberb, OR
Latino Feast, 2017 Tigard OR

Cities that invest in recreation amenity events space with recreational programming are further enriched through social gathering and commerce. It is during these public events community and families bond and new entrepreneur opportunities often culminate into small business. The political, social and economic engagement connections are the lifeblood of every community. And the connected neighborhood trail ways and sidewalks people access to walk and ride bikes, scooters and skateboards, etc., to go to work, play and spend leisurely time is a highly valued recreation amenity. One that connects people to these events, people and commerce through affordable mobility means.

This is where the Latino festivities [above] occurred in 2017. Now 2020, this Rotary Plaza space is built within the Heritage trail system next to the chamber building in Down Town Tigard OR. This place has been reconstructed for events, public rest rooms, events activities-stage and vendor truck electrical power hook ups, etc. Like the .75 mile Heritage Trail system the rotary plaza and events attributes are recreation amenities paid for by the public.

Regardless of social and economic status, everyone benefits by supporting and investing in walkable communities that offer community gathering space, developed parks and community recreation center(s) and other other recreational amenities with affordable public use access.

In ending, there is one recreational activity everyone can participate at no cost to stay fit healthy throughout the year – even when sheltered in place. Like many other cities throughout the state, Tigard OR has no shortage of connected city trail systems.

In my opinion, Tigard is next to none in trail systems that run through our parks and down town area. Virus or no virus… social distancing during walking exercise is pretty easy to do. So do get your walk and biking on. Walking is not a restricted activity within the city of Tigard.

“My favorite recreational activity for exercise is walking along Fanno Creek Regional trail system through Tigard.”

Tigard’s Fanno Creek on the Regional trail system is my favorite place to walk. If you’ve not taken the opportunity to experience it with family or friends, I highly recommend it.

This is a very relaxing and fun way to get your daily exercise and burn calories while taking in nature’s beauty. Along the way be sure to spend a little time Down Town on Tigard Main Street and Heritage trail. Walk to the local shops and support them by grabbing a healthy meal TO-GO.

To learn more about Tigard walking trails, connections and Down Town area visit Tigard walks at http://www.tigard-or.gov/community/tigard_walks.php .

Good Health to You and Your Family.

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. 2017-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org