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Health/Medical Community Partnerships

    In the past decade, rates of obesity and associated chronic diseases have skyrocketed in children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that more than one-third of adults in the United States—more than 72 million people—are considered medically obese and therefore more likely to develop major chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. At the same time, there has been a dramatic decline in physical activity.

    The current generation of children may be the first at risk of having a shorter lifespan than their parents. Outdoor activity in the natural environment has taken a back seat to television, video games, the computer, and a demanding schoolwork and extracurricular schedule. A growing body of research suggests that exposure to nature and outdoor exercise has significant health benefits such as improved wellness and mental health, reduced stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

    Corps lakes and river projects offer prime outdoor recreation opportunities to connect families with nature and lead to improved overall health. Corps NRM managers and specialists are encouraged to connect with the local medical community to educate pediatric and family health care providers about prescribing outdoor activities at Corps recreation sites. Connecting the health care community with Corps sites can also benefit public lands by promoting park stewardship and increasing potential funding sources.

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Updated: July 2011