If you want to get out and get some exercise but are not sure where to start, we can help! Legacy Parks is partnering with the Knoxville Mercury to provide a comprehensive guide to all locations for outdoor activity in the East Tennessee region. The guide was distributed in the April 14 edition of the Mercury and will also be available in health care facilities, at outreach events, schools, and Legacy Parks’ office at the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center. A digital version is now available online.
“The Get Out and Play! Guide is a complete directory of all parks, trails, and greenways in Knox County, and includes major regional parks and trails too,” said Carol Evans, Executive Director of Legacy Parks Foundation. “The is the first publication of its kind – organized geographically with locations, maps, and descriptions of park amenities. It is a great resource to help people find places to play to increase their physical activity!”
Abundant research links increased physical activity to improved health. Physical activity can reduce the risk of obesity, which is a leading cause of diabetes and heart disease. Knox County Health Department’s recent Community Health Assessment cited the lack of physical activity as a priority health issue – nearly 60 percent of residents reported a low activity level and 25 percent reported no weekly activity at all. And the Community Health Council selected “access to parks and greenways” as one of their four issues in their health improvement plan.
“Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Knox County but even a small increase in physical activity can have a positive effect. Public education on both the need and resources for exercise must occur, and this guide is a great beginning,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan, Director of the Knox County Health Department.
An equal volume of research indicates that access to outdoor recreation venues increases physical activity. The Tennessee Statewide Activity Plan strategy encourages a plan to inform, educate, an empower residents to access opportunities for physical activity; and to develop a ‘one-stop’ resource for all public places and spaces for movement available at no cost to all Tennesseans and visitors.
“East Tennessee has beautiful and unique natural resources,” said Rebecca Tolene, Vice President for TVA Natural Resources. “As part of our mission of service to the Valley, TVA manages a number of trails, parks and water access points that connect the public with their lands and waters. Public land is for everyone; there is something for everyone and every skill level to enjoy.”
Charlie Vogel, Publisher of the Knoxville Mercury says this guide provides all the information needed to access recreation locations. “Knox County has over 6,000 acres of parkland and almost 160 miles of trails and greenways. There is a place in every neighborhood for free outdoor activity, and we are happy the Mercury is able to help publicize these resources.”
As the East Tennessee region becomes better known as a recreation destination, these natural assets become more important to the quality of life and the economic health of the community. “We are so excited to promote and be part of the Get Out and Play! Guide. We want to educate everyone about all that there is to do in Blount County and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy this incredible area. We want to be your ‘outdoor amusement park’ in East Tennessee,” said Kim Mitchell, Director of Tourism for the Blount Partnership.
The guide separates Knoxville and Knox County into North, South, East, and West sections, lists regional community and state parks, contact information, and features resources for outdoor activity organizations, and equipment.