The San Diego-based American Council on Exercise launched a national advocacy campaign Wednesday calling on local and state governments to expand access and reduce restrictions to using green spaces, parks and other community spaces.
According to the nonprofit organization, community spaces can provide safe locations for structured, physical activity experiences led by qualified exercise professionals and community organizations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, ACE envisions its Moving Together Outside campaign as a long-term benefit to improve community health and reduce health inequities.
The campaign seeks to increase the number of shared-use agreements — which are created between two parties and allow for a space to be used when not otherwise occupied — across the country. ACE and campaign supporters say this will help increase physical activity access to all communities, especially those that are most vulnerable to lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Expanding access to physical activity opportunities through shared- use agreements is an innovative solution that can support safe, healthy and equitable communities,” said Amy Bantham, Moving Together Outside campaign spokeswoman and CEO/founder of Move to Live More. “It is a win-win-win for exercise professionals and small businesses, municipalities and community residents.”
ACE is advocating for a simple permitting model establishing criteria and fee structures for the use of public space to support employment, ensure good stewardship of the parks, reinforce physical activity-related community outcomes and provide a revenue stream to cities, according to Cedric X. Bryant, the nonprofit’s president and chief science officer.
“COVID-19 related restrictions and closures implemented to mitigate the risk of transmission have had a devastating impact on access to the fitness facilities, as well as on exercise professionals or organizations that deliver physical activity and exercise programs and interventions in communities,” Bryant said. “Prioritizing and investing in physical activity, which has been shown to help prevent and treat chronic diseases, is more important than ever and consumers are seeking places, access to programs and expertise to improve their health and wellness through physical activity opportunities that are affordable and conveniently located.”
For more information on the campaign and how to contact local municipalities about shared use agreements, visit https://general.acefitness.org/moving-together-outside.
–City News Service