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Outdoor Health Care

March 21, 2010 in Investigation

I’ve finally taken the leap and launched into a completely mobile lifestyle, working online and living with my wife in our camper. We’ve been getting lots of outdoor time in new places. The joy of this is tempered a bit by some of the chaos swirling around us. We left New Mexico in the midst of a budget crunch and found much of the same news in Arizona. Debate rages about a looming health care bill. Staying in a park near a congresswoman’s office in Tucson, protesters mob the street for hours once a week.

Meanwhile, as we research outdoor destinations in Arizona, we find a list of closed and partially closed parks among the many signs of budget cuts.

If there is one thing that’s crucial for an outdoorist, it’s public land. We still have a lot of it in the US, thankfully, but I don’t think we can afford let any of it slip away. I’d even put it on the same footing as health care, because I know my health depends on it. I wonder how many other people depend on public land for their physical fitness? No health care system can work without a healthy population, yet the debate doesn’t seem to focus much on the things that keep us healthy. Without public lands more of us will turn to gyms, and gym memberships may very well compete with health insurance in our budgets.

Is there any evidence to support this theory? I haven’t found any specific studies, but I think supporting statistics could be mined. Look at the American College of Sports Medicine’s fittest city list, and it compare it with CNN’s list of cities with the most parks. The top 20 entries in both lists have 11 cities in common. What other evidence is out there?

As an outdoorist just getting started on new path in these uncertain times, my prevailing thought is: public land is health insurance.

2 responses to Outdoor Health Care

  1. Now that’s a great slogan: “Public land is health insurance.” I think this is especially true in large cities like Chicago where, for many people, public parks are the only place to get out and play.

  2. I think parks also provide a destination that encourages exercise. Without public space, people looking for something to do would have far fewer active options.

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