As the National Park Service heads into its centennial year in 2016, they have launched a new initiative across the nation – Healthy Parks, Healthy People. Here on Cape Cod it has formed a partnership between the Cape Cod National Seashore and Cape Cod Healthcare.
It is described as the perfect marriage of nature, community and healthy living with both parties in a great position for promoting wellness and exercise: the Cape Cod National Seashore has 44,000 acres of park and Cape Cod Healthcare is the largest healthcare provider on Cape Cod.
The Cape Cod National Seashore is offering access to five scenic walking trails – the Beech Forest Trail in Provincetown, the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail off Marconi Station Site in Wellfleet, Pilgrim Spring and Small’s Swamp trails in Truro, and Nauset Marsh Trail off Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham. Cape Cod Healthcare, for their part, is leading walks and talks with a focus on fitness and nutrition throughout the summer and fall, as well as furnishing local physicians with “park prescription” pads along with letters detailing the program – with the expectation they will recommend to their patients (as medically appropriate). They even have a “Healthy People Passport,” which encourages participants to visit all of the trails, keep track of their steps and the degree of difficulty.
It’s about making exercise fun – both physically and spiritually – for all levels and abilities, and for encouraging a connection to nature, which can improve your physical health by lowering blood pressure, reducing obesity, and lowering risk for heart disease, as well as emotional and mental wellbeing for all Cape Codders.