Maintaining an active lifestyle can be challenging, for many people, but we all know the positive benefits of being active. With heart disease being the leading cause of death, an active lifestyle can do wonders for a community’s well-being and longevity. There are a few things parks and recreation organizations can do, when it comes to inspiring the communities they serve and helping to increase their physical activity levels.
First, getting your staff on board and setting an example for your visitors is a great initial step. You’ll then have to figure out what motivates your community to get active. Use all of the tools at your disposal – such as social media, email lists and otherwise – to help your cause. Most importantly, make sure to provide opportunities for your citizens to be more active in their day-to-day life. Here are some things to think about, to help you promote active living at your parks and rec organization.
Start from Within
One of the most important things you can do to promote active living is to get your staff to increase their own physical activity regimens. Your efforts may be in vain, if the people in your community who are trying to promote active lifestyles don’t practice what they preach. Not only will your staff members be more efficient in the workplace, they’ll also boost their own well-being and their customer service should come across more energetic and positive, as a result. Now when they make small talk with visitors and guests, they can chat about how they got active over the weekend, for example; further building the active culture at your organization.
Community Events and Incentives
Different people have a diverse mix of motivations for be active. Some like the competitive aspect of recreation leagues or drop-ins, while others like the social side of a sports day or kickboxing class. Some may want to look fit, while others just want to get some cardiovascular exercise. Having different sorts of incentives can help people get more active, in various ways that best fit their lifestyle.
This variety of incentives should be broken down by target demographic, before being executed. For example, if you find most millennials in your community enjoy team sports, you can market this part of your programming on social media. If you’re highlighting a group seniors’ walk aiming to boost social activity – while getting some physical exercise – you might want to target your local newspaper or community newsletters.
Out of all of the marketing tools you have, social media may be the most effective, at least for the dollar-to-dollar expenditure of your budget. Get creative and use this to your advantage, to promote an active lifestyle. Did your office staff reach a group fitness target? Share that on social media, to show that your team walks the walk.
Create a daily content theme. On Tuesdays, you could share user-submitted tips on how to be more active every day. On Saturdays, you might share inspirational photos and stories involving a change in one’s habits. Here’s a challenge for those in denser communities that have safe roads for cycling and walking: have a contest where people go carless for a week, with prizes for various categories.
Provide Ample Opportunities for Active Living
To encourage people into taking the active route, you’ll need to ensure the active lifestyle is a pleasant choice. For example, biking to work is great but, without any bike lanes, it might be difficult to get more people on board for ditching their cars. If you want people to walk, cycle or jog to local parks, you’ll need proper pathways that are well-lit, safe and enjoyable. If you want your office staff to take the stairs, rather than an elevator, make sure the stairs are well-lit, safe and accessible. Taking down any obstacles or barriers to active living can do wonders for positively changing people’s lifestyle habits.
Don’t forget, Parks and Recreation Month is coming up. With a little early planning, this gives you enough time to plan out your events and incentives for geting your community active.