Community Parks Across America


Free Local Parks That Are Good For Walking & Your Heart
A Love Your Parks Tour #OneHourWalk Map Story by Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid, assigned by Dr. Jacqueline Eubany


BIG BLEND RADIO INTERVIEW: Dr. Jacqueline Eubany discusses how getting outside for a walk or hike is good cardio for your heart, calms hypertension and stress, and is a good way to be active while keeping social distance. Listen to her interview here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean or SoundCloud.

Parks, especially those offering free admission, are critical to the quality of life in urban communities, and even in rural areas. Green spaces provide a place to relax, destress, and rejuvenate in nature. They are places to take a walk or bicycle ride away from traffic. They are spaces to get some exercise out in the fresh air and gather socially (of course safely distanced and masked during this pandemic). They are recreational playgrounds for humans of all ages, and an outdoor haven for dogs and pets. Each community park is unique. Some protect the natural beauty and ecosystem of an area by providing a habitat for local birds, native plants, insects, and wildlife, while others honor local history and traditions with public art, historic plaques and statues, and as a venue for annual events and celebrations. Offering free admission to a park is an investment in the physical and mental health of a community. Of course, funds to maintain parks often come from local tax income, grants, and not-for-profit fundraising endeavors. These parks are local treasures, and while many are cared for by municipal staff and volunteers, it is up to us all to care for them.  

As Dr. Jackie stresses in her article Why Parks Are Good for Your Heart, “Physical activity is a key component to good heart health. It is beneficial in healthy individuals, people who are considered high risk for disease, and those who are currently living with chronic health conditions. From a heart standpoint, physical activity can lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol, decrease your blood sugar and therefore your risk for diabetes, and overall reduces your chances of dying from heart disease-related illness. Any physical activity is always better than NO physical activity, so you have to get out there and just move. The minimal goal for good heart health is 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity. Start TODAY! Start slow, and build up your stamina.”

As we travel across America on our Love Your Parks Tour, we have visited numerous community parks. These “backyard parks” range from small pocket parks to city and regional parks, to state parks and units within the national park service. As visitors, it is a way for us to get a sense of what it’s like to live in an area. They are places to break up a long drive, stretch our legs and get some steps in, and often a place to relax with a picnic made up of local fare. Visitors to a destination often seek out community parks to take a relaxed stroll before checking in to their lodging for the evening. They are especially good if you are traveling with kids and/or pets, or need a place to take a break on an extensive road trip or cross-country drive.

Enjoy our interactive map below that showcases all of the community and urban parks we have visited on our Love Your Parks Tour, especially ones that offer free admission and where we have enjoyed a #OneHourWalk.  Speaking of walking in parks, it often helps to have friends or walking buddies to keep you motivated to stay consistent in your walking schedule. So come join our #OneHourWalk Facebook Group and share your adventures!

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