It's a concept that Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and our partners in the public health field believe could revolutionize health care - adding just 30 minutes of walking or riding a day as a simple and inexpensive preventive treatment.
In some parts of America, the idea that a trail or safe sidewalk is also a health facility of sorts is a new and novel approach. But some communities have long recognized the health value of their local trails, and are ahead of the game in using these trails as part of organized health initiatives.
It was great to read this morning of a coordinated effort in eastern Pennsylvania involving Lehigh Valley Health Network, Wildlands Conservancy, Tilghman Medical Center and the American Heart Association to encourage physical activity by utilizing the Ironton Rail Trail and Lehigh Parkway.
The "Get Out! Lehigh Valley" and "Your Doctor 5K" events are great examples of health professionals finding active, creative ways to keep people healthy rather than reactively treating sickness. And a pleasant stroll along a lovely rail-trail sure beats a doctor's office visit any day!
Has your community been able to make the local trail system a part of its public health strategy? Or do you know of a community organization using trails to improve local health outcomes? I'd love to hear about it. Email me, Tina Jones, RTC's Healthy Community Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.