Yes, the dreary winter season is still upon us here in southeast Texas, but the month of February still gives us plenty to smile about. (And no, we’re not talking about those delicious Valentine’s Day chocolates.)

For facility and recreational managers at parks, schools, churches and neighborhoods, February offers your community two reasons to get out and enjoy your playground and other outdoor amenities:

February Is American Heart Month

Heart disease continues to be the No. 1 cause of death among both men and women in the United States, leading to 1 in every 4 deaths nationwide. The good news is that heart disease is highly preventable, and prevention starts with awareness.

The American Heart Association has declared February American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and how it can be prevented. This month offers a perfect opportunity to reach out to your community and encourage them to make heart-healthy choices, including increasing their physical activity. Of course, your playground and other outdoor amenities offer an ideal location for getting healthy exercise while enjoying fresh air and the chance to engage with others!

How you can celebrate:

  • Host a community event where families can learn about heart disease prevention from local healthcare providers.
  • Schedule a “heart walk” around your neighborhood that finishes with a party at your playground.
  • Encourage young families to take advantage of nice-weather days (or at least non-rainy days) by taking the kids to your playground for some heart-healthy activity.

February Is Recreational Therapy Month

February is also National Recreational Therapy Month, sponsored by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association. For people with illnesses or debilitating conditions, recreational therapy offers the opportunity to improve their psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being through recreation and other activity-based interventions.

While not everyone has a condition requiring formal recreational therapy, this month offers an excellent opportunity to highlight the therapeutic benefits of activity even for healthy kids and adults.

How you can celebrate:

  • Use your community newsletter, Facebook group, or other communications to remind your community that recreational activity can boost mood, improve sleep, and reduce stress.
  • Host a “beat the winter blues” walk or fun run in your neighborhood to encourage families to get outdoors, even if the skies are gray.
  • Remind your senior community members that physical activity can prevent disease, improve balance and stability, and increase life expectancy.

Wishing you and your community a happy, healthy February!