Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Experience Great Outdoors Month in one of U.S.'s Fittest Cities

Two stories in the news this week, which seem to go hand in hand:

First, DC again received one of the top rankings on the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual American Fitness Index™ (AFI) report. The report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas” evaluates the most populous city areas to identify the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked number one this year, with the DC area (including parts of Virginia and Maryland) coming in second.

You can read the full report online, but some of the things that helped with the ranking are: higher percentage of people eating 5+ surveys of fruits/vegetables a day, higher percentage of city land used as park land, more farmer's markets per capita and higher percentage of people in excellent or very good health. In my mind, those things all point to the high number of gardeners in the area. Gardening is great exercise, and the trend towards organic gardening is teaching many gardeners the pleasure of eating what we grow or what is grown locally.

The other headline in the news: President Obama has proclaimed June Great Outdoors Month, to encourage American's to appreciate and preserve our Great Outdoors. Here are a few excerpts from the proclamation, but I encourage you to read the whole thing online:

As America's frontier diminished and our cities expanded, a few bold leaders and individuals had the foresight to protect our most precious natural and historic places. Today, we all share the responsibility to uphold their legacy of conservation, whether by protecting an iconic vast public land, or by creating a community garden or an urban park.... 

Our plan will restore and increase recreational access to public lands and waterways; bolster rural landscapes, including working farms and ranches; develop the next generation of urban parks and community green spaces; and create a new Conservation Service Corps so that young people can experience and restore the great outdoors.... 

As we commit to protecting our country's outdoor spaces, we also celebrate all they have to offer. Our public lands and other open areas provide myriad opportunities for families and friends to explore, play, and grow together -- from hiking and wildlife watching to canoeing, hunting, and fishing, and playing in a neighborhood park. These activities can help our kids stay healthy, active, and energized, while reconnecting with their natural heritage.

Yes, I know it's hot outside. But I encourage you to take a break and go outside and follow the advice in the Great Outdoors Proclamation:

This month, let each of us resolve to protect our great outdoors; discover their wonders; and share them with our friends, our neighbors, and our children.

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