The health benefits associated with parks and trails have been a central theme throughout the creation and development of the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System. The plan was designed in coordination with the Jefferson County Department of Health, while many of the trail projects currently under construction were strategically chosen to increase recreational space in neighborhoods that are home to some of the region’s highest rates of obesity and obesity-related illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Freshwater Land Trust is excited to continue exploring the health benefits of green space by partnering with the YMCA of Greater Birmingham, UAB, the Jefferson County Department of Health, and other organizations to develop a local Parks Prescription program. The program is modeled on work in other cities that involves health care providers connecting patients with outdoor recreational spaces near where they live. Research has shown that access to places for physical activity, combined with informational outreach, produces a nearly 50% increase in the frequency of physical activity.
The partnerships around the Parks Prescription program will provide additional opportunities for residents to enjoy some of the amazing local parks and trails, improving their health and the general health of the community.
2015’s first Red Rock Tuesday on Fox 6’s Good Day Alabama kicked off this morning at the Shades Valley YMCA. We spent the morning with Jeh Jeh and President & CEO of the YMCA Stan Law learning more about how the Y is working with local partners to bring greater health impacts to the community by encouraging people to get outside and exercise.
The YMCA’s efforts to create programs that get people outside the four walls of the gym and connected to parks and trails coincides with the Freshwater Land Trust’s work to provide access to these outside places where they can exercise and play. Our mission is to preserve the places that matter so that people can become connected with the outdoors, and the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System serves as that important connection.
Specifically, the Y is working with the Freshwater Land Trust to create social walking groups that utilize the Red Rock Trail System. These groups encourage people to get active outside – to visit a park or trail and exercise together – so that they can be healthier. We all know the health benefits of exercising, but the social aspect of walking a trail or playing in a park is also beneficial to the community’s well-being.
Have a safe place to go outside and exercise is one of the first steps to living a healthier lifestyle. The goal of the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System is to connect people to the places they want to go. We want to provide those connections, so that the healthy choice can become the easy choice. People who have access to parks and trails in their neighborhoods are more likely to use them every day to fulfill their health and fitness goals. We look forward to continuing our work with the YMCA as well as the Jefferson County Department of Health and other Health Action Partnership leaders to provide these meaningful connections and make Birmingham a healthier, more walkable place to live, work and play.
Remember to follow the Freshwater Land Trust on Facebook to stay updated on the newest additions to the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System, and tune into Red Rock Tuesday on Good Day Alabama on the first Tuesday of every month!