Thursday, December 12, 2013

C'mon Arkansas!

Arkansas is known as The Natural State and prides itself on its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.  People travel to Arkansas to hunt, fish, paddle, and hike, but apparently most Arkansans aren't taking advantage of our state's natural treasures.

I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog that trails have many benefits and I recently wrote up some reasons we should increase trail funding in the state.  Three headlines/tweets I read today really highlighted the fact that we are failing to make good use of what our state has to offer:

1.  According to data collected by the CDC, Arkansas is the least active state in the country (via WRI on Twitter).

2.  Arkansas is the 49th healthiest state according to a report by the United Health Foundation.  We rank poorly due to high rates of obesity and smoking.

3.  Arkansas is the third fattest state and the only state where adult obesity rates increased last year.

Come on Arkansas!  How is it that we have so much outdoor recreational potential in the state and still have all these negative rankings for things that correlate heavily with inactivity?  One reason is that we lack walkable communities with recreational infrastructure near our homes.  Remember last year when Arkansas was ranked the least bike-friendly state?  We clearly need to get people outdoors, and a big part of that is going to involve improving access to trails, sidewalks, parks, and athletic fields/courts.

Here are some things you can do to get involved:
Join and support organizations that work on environmental education, walkable communities, and getting people outdoors.
Research your community's master trails and parks plans.
Join city or county committees that update these plans.

If you want to be more active but need ideas, here are a few:
Go for a walk, jog, hike, or bike ride.
Get a dog.  They need to be walked multiple times a day and that means you do too!
Take up disc golf or real golf.
Go paddling.  There are great lakes and streams all over Arkansas.
Get a book on trails.  There are lots to choose from for Arkansas.
Work in the yard. Get an old-school lawnmower.
Go birding.

Related Articles:
Arkansas Outdoor Resources
Arkansas Trail Resources - Find places to go and people to go with!

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