Designing Health and Wellness Space Into Rec Centers

Adult fitness

By Stephen Springs

Last month, I wrote about ways in which the National Recreation and Park Association’s three pillars can be incorporated into the facility design process. Conservation was first; next, we’ll highlight design opportunities for health and wellness, NRPA’s second — and arguably most urgent ­­— pillar.

With adult obesity rates above 30 percent in half of the states in this country and 45 percent of adults not active enough to receive healthful benefits, it seems unfair to place the burden of improving the overall health and wellness of a community on a recreation facility. But that’s exactly what’s happening.

As NRPA proclaims on the organization’s website: “The scientific evidence is mounting that parks and recreation are building healthier communities, and top health officials in the country — U.S. Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — validate that parks and recreation are a critical solution for our nation’s health epidemic.”

To that end, think beyond the typical borders of fitness centers and basketball/volleyball courts by designing active play and recreation options for facility users of all ages.

In other words, envision your recreation center as a multi-generational community center — one in which everyone feels welcome. Cross-market between your facilities that have unique programs. Often, patrons aren’t aware of opportunities that would interest them, simply because they are at a different location.

Indoor walking tracks can
help engage facility users
across generations.

This involves creative design as much as it does strategic programming. Consider the Dine and Learn program offered by the Prince George’s County (Md.) Department of Parks and Recreation, which demands large kitchen spaces.

Read more here

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