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.