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  What We Do

Pathways to Healthy Living:
Promoting Physical Activity In Parks and Communities

Close-to-home recreation on neighborhood trails and greenways, and in National Parks, is vital for improving America's public health.
The National Park Service is ideally positioned to respond to this urgent need to increase Americans' level of physical activity.

Through its Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, the National Park Service has launched a nationwide initiative to encourage healthful outdoor physical activity in National Parks and local communities to demonstrate practical approaches for public land managers and community leaders who want to encourage active lifestyles.

In 1999, the National Park Service signed an innovative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agreement promotes the development, use and benefits of local parks and recreational infrastructure to support physical activity.

Since that time, the National Park Service, through the Rivers & Trails Program, has worked with a variety of health and physical activity partners, from the State of Indiana to the Paso del Norte Health Foundation in Texas, to provide close to home opportunities for recreation and physical activity. Staff from both Agencies have participated in cross training activities, presented at each others conferences, and have assisted on local trail projects together. This year the Rivers & Trails Program has over 20 local projects involving the health and physical activity community as partners.

photo of bicyclists crossing a bridge on a multi-use trail

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 60% of our population is not getting enough physical activity. The Rivers & Trails Program helps local communities provide inviting environments close to home to encourage regular exercise and group interaction. Walking trails, bicycle paths, greenways and revitalized waterways provide an abundance of opportunities for healthy and fun activities that can improve health and save lives. Read more about five of the Rivers & Trails health projects.

Link here for further information about physical activity and the built environment.

Challenge Cost Share Program | Federal Lands to Parks | Hydropower Relicensing Program
Land and Water Conservation Fund | Conservation and Outdoor Recreation | National Trails System
Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers | Rivers and Trails Program | Urban Park and Recreation Recovery
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