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Nov 12

Recreation in 2020

Posted on November 12, 2020 at 10:07 AM by Jessica Abrahams

Author: Mary Jo Knudson, Recreation Supervisor

We’ve all made adjustments and we continue to make adjustments in how we work and play during this crazy year!  Google mobility reports have shown that park use nationwide, statewide and locally have sky rocketed over the last several months.

The benefits of being outside, as they used to say can “cure what ails ya”!  Now we’re not saying our parks can take away all your worries or solve every health issue, but it sure doesn’t hurt to give it a try.  (Note – facts come from National Park & Recreation Association research briefs.)

Studies have shown spending time walking in nature or simply being in nature lowers blood pressure and reduces stress-related hormones.  Anxiety and depression decrease after spending time outside, and overall mood becomes more positive.  Let’s face it, being in nature makes us happy. 

Programs like Park Rx encourage collaboration between park and public land agencies, healthcare providers and community partners.  Park Rx began in 2013 is a nationwide program created in a partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the National Recreation and Parks Association and the National Park Service.   Our park professional neighbors in Rochester are working with healthcare providers in furthering their use of parks in a total wellness program for their patients. 

A study in the Journal of Aging and Health, adults over 70 who spent time outdoors experienced fewer sleep difficulties, complained less about aches and pains, and enjoyed improved mobility and ability to perform daily activities.

As we approach a holiday season with plenty of unknowns, it’s a perfect time to relieve stress and reset in one of Owatonna’s beautiful parks!  Even if you feel like you don’t have the time, make a quick stop and spend just five minutes relaxing, taking deep breaths and listening to the music of nature!

Please be sure to be thoughtful of others well-being and wear a mask and social distance when you’re out and about.  With over 17 miles of trails and more than 20 maintained parks, you’ll be able to find your own space to relax!

Since we’ve already experienced our first snow, it’s time to locate those snowshoes and cross-country skis.  Our paved trails are broomed for walkers all winter, and ski trails adjacent to trails are groomed, as weather permits.  A little snow doesn’t need to stop you from enjoying nature, and in fact, it can be quite a beautiful sight!

And don’t forget about your furry friends!  The Dog Park gives dogs a safe space to exercise and roam around freely.  Dogs can socialize with other dogs.  And most of all…it gives dogs a place to get a serious case of the Zoomies!  Let’s face it, watching our dog with zoomies helps our mood and makes us smile!

In other recreation news:

Thank you for everyone who participated in our Park Clean-Up program and checked out a kit this summer and fall.  Special thanks to Federated Insurance and Owatonna Young Professionals who brought groups to clean-up.  A nod to St. Mary’s students who planned a clean-up day, but got snowed out!  Look for an Adopt-A-Park program to be launched Spring 2021.

The Parks & Recreation Department is launching a new registration program, CivicRec this month.  Youth registration on November 19 are first programs offered on the new platform.  Watch for more news regarding this change.