Tag Archives: Recreation

Call to Action: Park Rx

PIERRE, SD – South Dakota’s medical professionals are invited to participate in the FREE Park Rx program and prescribe exercise for their patients.

When participating providers prescribe exercise, their patients fill the prescription by visiting any South Dakota State Park and receive a free day in the park or a discounted annual pass.

Regular outdoor activity and exercise are proven to benefit both physical and mental health. We encourage all providers to sign up for the program and get all South Dakotans to take advantage of our many amazing state parks to work on wellness.

The program is being administered by the South Dakota Department of Health in partnership with South Dakota Game Fish & Parks and SDSU Extension.

Sign up for the Park Rx Program

It only takes a few minutes to get started by filling out the form below:

  1. If you’re a patient: The provider you list will be sent Park Rx information that encourages them to sign up.
  2. If you’re a healthcare provider: You’ll receive an information packet with Park Rx pads in the mail.

Sign up as a participating provider in March and get a t-shirt, notebook, and water bottle from South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks!

Submit a Park Rx Request

Are you a healthcare provider?

Questions? Contact us at: sdsu.betterchoicesbetterhealth@sdstate.edu
*required fields

Spread the word!

  • Talk to your friends and family and tell them how to get their own Park Rx.
  • Download this flyer. Show it to your doctor or healthcare provider and ask if they are participating in the Park Rx project.
  • Plan an event in your local community promoting physical activity in parks – involve your school, healthcare facilities, community members, and local businesses. Consider planning your event around National Park Rx Day.
  • You have so many options to enjoy the outdoors in South Dakota! Discover all the ways you can fill your Park RX Prescription.

Exercise is medicine for everyone!

Regular physical activity can:

  • improve muscular fitness
  • aid in prevention of falls
  • assist with weight management
  • improve cognitive function in older adults
  • prevent and help manage certain chronic diseases

Kids benefit, too!
Many children and adolescents don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Besides building strong bones and muscles, regular physical activity also decreases the likelihood of developing obesity and risk factors for diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Plus, exercise may give a boost in positive mental health by reducing anxiety and depression. If you’re ready to promote youth physical activity, download the Youth Physical Activity Recommendations fact sheet to get started.

Any regular physical activity is beneficial, but doing it while in a park is even better! Outdoor activity improves mental and physical well-being more than indoor activity and spending time in nature is associated with better cognitive development in schoolchildren.

Download the Park Rx infographic and share and display it everywhere for a little extra motivation.

Here’s the buzz about Park Rx:
Park Rx is sweeping the nation! As seen on National Geographic and Scientific American!

The South Dakota Park Rx project aligns with the vision of the Exercise is Medicine® initiative. The goal is to make physical activity and exercise a standard part of global disease prevention and treatment. Our goal is to increase assessment and prescription of physical activity. Park Rx is a great way to encourage physical activity for your patients.

Where to Walk & Play

With all the great places to be active in South Dakota, you may have a hard time narrowing down the choices. Fortunately, the SD Department of Health, SDSU Extension, and the SD Game, Fish & Parks teamed up to create a couple of handy lists that show some of the different activities offered in South Dakota State Parks.

  • Group activities: disc golf, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball
  • Low impact activities: walking, geo-cacheing, swimming, and lawn games
  • Trail activities: walking, running, hiking, biking, and archery
  • Water activities: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding
  • Winter activities: snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking

Download the activities postcards or use the SD Game, Fish & Parks’ State Park Filtering Tool to see what activities are available at your nearest park.

Physical activity has immediate health benefits and the best part is—any activity counts! That’s right, even small amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity can:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Help maintain bone density
  • Increase strength
  • Improve flexibility

Walking for just a few minutes a day is the perfect way to start exploring all the great places in our beautiful state parks. So, grab the kids, a friend, load up a pet, and take a walk in one of our great state parks—better yet, find an activity and invite the whole gang!

Sources: Health.gov, SD Game, Fish & Parks

Fall into Fitness

Many consider Fall one of the most beautiful times of year. Changes in the natural outdoor colors, the arrival of cool weather, and the sight of farmers in the field all make this season a gorgeous time of year. Fall offers the opportunity for engagement in a number of outdoor activities, in a cool and scenic atmosphere. For those who are looking to start becoming more active, this beautiful fall weather can serve as a strong motivational factor and assist with the development of a lifelong active lifestyle.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both each week. For instance, an adult can meet this guideline by walking 30 minutes (15 minutes in the morning & 15 minutes in the evening) 5 times a week. In addition to getting some aerobic exercise, adults should strive to incorporate 2 or more days of muscle strengthening activity each week. Examples of muscle strengthening activities include weight lifting, push-ups, sit-ups, yoga, or resistance band exercises. Activity only needs to be performed in bouts of 10 minutes or more, increasing ease for very busy individuals to meet the recommendations!

If you feel you are too busy to incorporate activity into your normal routine, try spreading your activity out during the week or making it intrinsic to your normal daily routine. The recommended 150 minutes can be accumulated throughout all 7 days of the week. Identify available time slots by monitoring your normal daily routine for one week and insert 10-15 minute bouts of activity where time is available. For example, try a 10 minute walk in the morning, one over lunch, and a 10 minute bike ride in the evening to enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Choose activities that require minimal time, such as jogging, walking, or going up and down stairs. If that doesn’t work and you can’t get outside, try cleaning your house at a moderate to vigorous intensity 25 minutes each day (i.e. sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, mopping).

Physical activity does not have to be another thing on your “to-do list”, you can sneak activity into things you are already doing. Walk or bike to work or nearby facilities, play with your kids outside, do some squats and heel raises while checking cattle or cooking, exercise while you watch television, walk the dog or lift small hand weights while you read. Incorporating physical activity into your day can be easy; it might just take a little creativity. South Dakota offers trails and parks across the state, which is a pleasing sight to the eye during fall.

“Being physically active is one of the most important steps that Americans of all ages can take to improve their health.” – The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

See more at SDSU Extension

Staying Active in a Rural Community

In South Dakota, we are surrounded by small towns with low populations. Memberships to fitness facilities, gyms, recreation centers, or community physical activity opportunities may be slim, if available at all. With constant messaging about the benefits and importance of being physically active, one may wonder how they can keep active with limited access to facilities. The beauty of this perceived dilemma is that physical activity can be performed anywhere with little to no equipment.

Here are a few ideas to stay active year-round, whether or not you have physical activity facilities or amenities available in your community.

Active transportation is defined as: approaches that encourage individuals to actively travel from one destination to the next, such as walking or biking, decreasing the use for motorized transportation. In many small towns, actively transporting to the grocery store, school, post office, or a neighbor’s house can be done with ease.

Workout at Home
Although not all individuals enjoy working up a sweat in their living room, this is an option that is available to anyone who has an open space in their home. If you don’t have an exercise video or routine to follow, perform some exercises like squats, push-ups, stretching and flexibility training, or abdominal exercises. Videos, YouTube, Social Media Exercise videos, online workout routines and social media platforms are a great way to access a variety of free workout routines to do anywhere. Yoga, kickboxing, strength training, balance practice, stretching, and cardio workouts can all be accessed by doing a simple online search. If you are new to exercise, be sure to start slow and look for beginner focused workouts.

Walk, Walk, Walk!
The most preferred form of physical activity is walking. Walking can be performed anywhere, indoors or outdoors, with no equipment other than a good pair of tennis shoes.

Community Groups
If you have a passion for walking, biking, yoga or another fitness trend, consider forming a community group or community class around that interest. Talk with local facilities (i.e. community center, school, churches) and see if they are willing to share use of an open space for your community group to meet once or twice a week. If you are a walking or biking group, you can meet outside and go for a walk or ride together as a group.

If your community lacks access to physical activity opportunities, advocate for development, policies or access to such amenities.

See more at SDSU Extension

Park It: Health Benefits of Enjoying the Outdoors

Spending time outdoors, specifically at parks, offers many health benefits to both adults and children. The open space, green grass, trees, and other natural features may improve mood, reduce stress, or increase feelings of overall relaxation. One of the most obvious benefits parks and outdoor spaces offers is a place for people to engage in regular exercise. In fact, the more parks there are in a community, the more people exercise. In addition, people who live closer to parks exercise more than individuals that live farther away from parks. Check out some of the additional benefits of spending time outdoors and nature here.

Parks offer a platform to improve community engagement and increase community physical activity access. South Dakota has parks spread across the state, ranging from the Badlands National Park to the Lake Cochrane Recreation State Park. For a complete listing of South Dakota State Parks and to find the ones closest to you visit South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.


South Dakota Department of Health, SDSU Extension and SD Game, Fish and Parks offer an exciting program to increase physical activity in our park system across the state, Park Rx. The program encourages healthcare providers to prescribe exercise – and when they do – patients can take their prescription to any South Dakota State Park and turn it in for a FREE entrance into a State Park for the day. To get your healthcare provider involved, read more about Park Rx here.


Community Recreational Trails in South Dakota

One of the under used treasures in South Dakota are the many, many miles of trails through out the state, both in parks and in local communities. Many cities and towns in South Dakota have started on the ‘path’ to wellness and healthy lifestyle by adding walking, hiking, and biking trails to encourage exercise. Regular physical activity decreases risks for chronic disease, improves overall quality of life, and enhances well-being.

Through a 2010-2011 grant program, the South Dakota Department of Health funded 57 trailhead markers and signs across the state in 18 communities, to promote local trails and encourage increased physical activity. The following South Dakota communities received trailhead markers and signs.

Community/Organization (# of signs and markers)

Aberdeen (4 signs)
Aberdeen Recreational Trails System

Belle Fourche (3)
Belle Fourche River Walk Trail

Box Elder (3)
Nature Trail Arboretum

Chamberlain (3)
Chamberlain Walking Path, Barger Park to Roam Free Park

Huron (4)
Ravine Lake Park
Memorial Park
Riverside Park
Pepsi Soccer Field

Lyman County (1)
Roland L Dolly Memorial Trail

Madison (3)
Madison Recreation Trail
The Gerry Maloney Nature Area

Miller (2)
Hand County Trails/Lake Louise

Mitchell (6)
Bike Path near cemetery/golf course
Burr/Dry Run Creek
15th Bypass
Cabela’s Lake – east entrance
Duff and Norway
Minnesota and Ash

Mobridge (3)
Lewis and Clark Interpretation Trail

Pierre (4)
Griffin City Park
Steamboat City Park
Farm Island entrance
La Framboise Island Nature Area entrance

Rapid City Lions Organization (3)
Rushmore Lions Nature Park

Rapid City Parks & Recreation Association (3)
Hanson-Larson Memorial Trail

Sisseton (2)
Pedestrian Path

Sturgis (2)
Deadman Trail
Centennial Trail

Vermillion (3)
Dawson Trail
Dakota trail
University Trail

Watertown (3)
Red Loop
Blue Loop
Orange Loop

Whitewood (1)
Historic Oak Park

Yankton (4)
Riverside Park
Chamber of Commerce Trail
Marne Creek West Greenway

More Community Recreational Trails

HealthySD is also pleased to provide the links to the other state and community trails listed below. If you would like a community trail listed here use the contact us page to tell us the trail name and appropriate web link.

Get Your Tail on the Trail
Hiking/Biking Trails in SD Parks
Kids in Parks
Brookings McCrory Gardens Arboretum
Sioux Falls

Winter Time: Get Up & Out!

Wow, it’s winter! Get out and enjoy all the frosty frills winter has to offer! There’s a lot to do beyond the couch for individuals, as well as families.

The following are some great reasons to get out:

  • With family or with friends, activities help to build social skills for youth as well as adults.
  • Outdoor activities can increase or maintain your physical activity ability. Whether it is walking around the block or snowshoeing, you are expending calories. The type of activity and the effort you put into it determine calorie expenditure; the more you do, the more calories expended. The USDA recommends 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day for children ages 6 years and older and 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity for adults per week.
  • You can increase your involvement in community activities in the public and private sector. Lots of communities have outdoor recreation programs geared toward individual age groups, specific events or families in general. The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department has winter sporting equipment available for loan. A listing of products is available on their website or call 605.362.2777. A brief list of things to do includes snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing or hiking at one of the many state parks.
  • When venturing out, keep safety in mind!  If you are going out by yourself, carry a cell phone and be sure to let others know where you are going and your plans for returning.
  • Dress in layers to allow for taking off or adding clothing, to maintain warmth and comfort.
  • Keep equipment in good operating condition to prevent injuries.
  • Take time to warm up and cool down your muscles to prevent strains and sprains.

Following is a brief list of winter activities and estimated calorie expenditure for an individual weighing approximately 175 pounds for 30 minutes:

Activity:Calories expended:
Walking, 3 mph131
Cross Country Skiing, moderate318
Ice Skating278
Snow Shoeing318

Source: SDSU Extension; Get Up & Out!

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Fitness Passport Challenge

The GFP Fitness Passport Challenge encourages people of all ages to get outdoors and visit South Dakota State Parks, the state fish hatcheries and The Outdoor Campuses. To get started you can pick up a passport book at any state park or GFP office or visit the GFP website to request a copy.

Visitors to state parks, recreation areas, fish hatcheries and The Outdoor Campuses can have their passport book stamped in an effort to receive incentives.

State parks offer many opportunities for outdoor activities and education. Families can travel the state and visit Game, Fish and Park areas while participating in healthy activities such as hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, birding, swimming, cross-country skiing, hunting or fishing.

Areas to visit include all 61 state parks and recreation areas, three fish hatcheries, The Outdoor Campus East, The Outdoor Campus West and the Family Park in Sioux Falls.

Once a visitor has a set number of stamps, he/she can take the book into any park or GFP office to receive incentives. Prizes will be given for visiting 10, 25, 45 and 65 + areas.

Each area has a stamp that can be found in a lock box, so visitors can stamp their books even when staff is not present. The combination to unlock the box is listed on the page that describes the area. Lock boxes are located near the self registration stations at state park entrances and on welcome signs at non-fee areas.

Prize levels are reached when you have 10, 25, 45 and 65 stamps in your passport book. When you’ve reached one of the levels, take the Passport Prize form and your book to a Game, Fish and Parks office or a state park for verification. Ask a staff member to verify the levels you’ve reached and sign your form.

Source: SD Game, Fish and Parks; Fitness Passport Challenge

Ride Your Bike Safely

May is National Bike Month! Whether you are biking to school or work, there are so many ways to celebrate the power of the pedal! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The Basics
Riding bikes is a great way for you to get active. Riding a bike can help you:

  • Get in shape
  • Lose weight
  • Improve your overall health
  • Lower your risk of health conditions like heart disease
  • Save money on gas
  • Protect the environment
  • Explore your community
  • Riding bikes is also a great way to spend time with your family and get active together.

Follow these safety tips every time you ride.

  • Ride a bike that’s the right size for you.
  • Check the brakes before you ride.
  • Always wear a bike helmet.
  • Wear bright colors and reflective tape.
  • Ride in the same direction as cars.
  • A bike crash could send you to the emergency room. The good news is that many bike injuries can be prevented. If you have kids, teach them these safety tips right from the start.

Take Action!
Make safe biking a habit and have a plan!
National Bike Month

Ride a bike that’s the right size for you.
Riders of any age should be able to put one leg on each side of the top bar (tube) of their bike with both feet flat on the ground. Otherwise, the bike isn’t safe to ride.

Check the brakes.
Make sure the brakes are working before you ride.

If you are choosing a bike for a child, choose one that brakes when the rider pedals backwards. Young children’s hands aren’t big enough or strong enough to use hand brakes.

Always wear a bike helmet!
Get in the “helmet habit” – wear a helmet every time and everywhere you ride a bike. A bike helmet is the best way to prevent injury or death from a bike crash.

Make sure your helmet is certified. Look for a sticker on the inside that says “CPSC.” This means it’s been tested for safety.

Bike helmets only protect you if you wear them the right way. Every time you put your helmet on, make sure that:

  • The helmet is flat on the top of your head
  • The helmet is covering the top of your forehead
  • The strap is buckled snugly under your chin

Find out more about the right way to fit a bike helmet [PDF – 2 MB].

Kids grow quickly – check regularly to make sure their helmets still fit.

Replace your helmet if you crash.
Even if your helmet doesn’t look cracked or damaged, it might not protect you in another crash.

Make sure people can see you easily.
Drivers can have a hard time seeing bike riders, even during the day. Follow these tips to help drivers see you:

  • Wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors.
  • Put something on your clothes or bike that reflects light, like reflective tape.

Try to plan ahead so your bike rides are over before it gets dark. If you are going to ride at night:

  • Make sure your bike has reflectors on the front, back, and wheels.
  • Put battery powered lights on your bike. A red light is for the back, and a white light is for the front – just like with cars.

Follow the “rules of the road.”

  • Look both ways before entering the street.
  • Ride in the same direction as the cars.
  • Stop at all stop signs and intersections.
  • Use hand signals to show others what you plan to do next.
    • For a left turn, look behind you, hold your left arm straight out to the side, and turn carefully.
    • For a right turn, hold your left arm out and up in an “L” shape.
  • To signal that you are stopping, hold your left arm out and down in an upside-down “L” shape.

Left TurnRight Turnstop
Use your left hand to make these signals for left turn, right turn, and stop.

Stay alert.

Paying attention to the things around you can help you stay safe.

  • Look for potholes, rocks, wet leaves, or anything that could make you fall.
  • Be aware of cars that are parking or backing up.
  • Listen for traffic and other activity around you. Don’t wear headphones when you ride.
  • If you are riding in bad weather, go slowly.

Source: HealthFinder.gov; Ride Your Bike Safely