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Published on June 30, 2015

Cape Cod National Seashore and Cape Cod Healthcare Announce Healthy Parks, Healthy People Initiative

Cape Cod National Seashore and Cape Cod Healthcare are extremely pleased to announce a partnership initiative that will benefit Cape Cod residents and visitors alike.

Healthy Parks, Healthy People (HPHP), a walking program to promote health and wellness, will begin on July 6 at Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS). It will feature Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) physicians, nurses and athletic trainers working with park rangers to help motivate participants to increase movement through enjoyment of the outdoors - and improve their health in the process. CCNS has committed park rangers and staff to the HPHP program, to assist with guiding walkers and educating participants about the five trails included in the program.

HPHP is a movement adopted by the National Park Service as part of its centennial anniversary in 2016. Several HPHP programs are already in place along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and the C&O Canal in Georgetown, VA.

Unique about the HPHP program here on Cape Cod is that the national seashore and Cape Cod Healthcare have joined forces to truly exemplify the purpose of the HPHP initiative. That is to motivate visitors and residents, alike, to get outdoors and exercise your body while walking away stress and worry.

“We are blessed on Cape Cod to have this beautiful park in our backyard, and we are very excited to partner with the national seashore on this innovative new program,” said Michael Lauf, President and CEO of CCHC. “This gives our physicians and other clinicians a unique opportunity to engage with members of the community around the importance of staying active at any age.” 

“What better place than Cape Cod to bring together the beauty of our natural surroundings and the expertise of our local healthcare system for the purpose of making our community healthier,” added George Price, Superintendent of the national seashore. “We’re particularly pleased that this is a multi-year commitment from our partners at Cape Cod healthcare and we hope it will be a model for others around the country.”

Also involved in the initiative are students in the Sports Management program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. They have become familiar with the trails and have worked to develop an expanded list of programs, such as night hikes, seniors’ hikes and family hikes.

An important part of the HPHP program includes the invitation to veterans and their families to join in with this fun activity. CCHC and seashore staff is working with the Hyannis Vet Center, the Cape & Islands Veterans Outreach Center, the Grace Veterans Program, and the Providence VA, to explore ways for veterans to participate in the daily program as well as future special activities.

Throughout the summer and into October, CCHC will staff one on-site base at Salt Pond Visitors Center in Eastham and two rotating mobile camps at the park, where participants will learn about the five trails selected for walks and will receive maps and guides. Interested participants may have their blood pressure readings as well as their height, weight and body mass index measured by registered medical staff. Participants will receive a personal passport to record their walking performances and personal readings.

Studies show that half of Americans report that they do not engage in the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise most days of the week. Meanwhile, chronic disease accounts for 70 percent of all deaths in the U.S.

“We have a crisis in this country in healthcare that is draining the economy; especially the epidemic of obesity and diabetes,” said Dr. Elissa Thompson, a Cape Cod Hospital cardiologist and medical director of the cardiac rehab unit at Cape Cod Hospital, who is also medical director of the HPHP program. “Exercise has a profound effect on blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol.”

Physicians on Cape Cod will be encouraged to write walking “prescriptions” to their patients to take part in the HPHP program, and will be given specially designed prescription pads.

Mental and spiritual well-being are also part of HPHP, and Sue Moynihan, chief of interpretation and cultural resources at the seashore, will work with volunteers to educate walkers about how to tune out stress and soak in the restorative aspects of being outdoors.

Media Inquiries

All media inquiries should be directed to Robin Lord, Director of Communications.

Phone: 508-862-7891

Cell: 774-236-9602

rlord@capecodhealth.org