News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Encourages Residents to Celebrate Family Health and Fitness Day

June 6, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Family Health and Fitness Day is June 8, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging South Carolinians to use the day to connect with loved ones, enjoy the state’s smoke-free parks and commit to improving their physical health year-round.  

Celebrated on the second Saturday in June each year, Family Health and Fitness Day promotes the importance of parks and recreation in keeping communities healthy and active.     

South Carolina parks encourage physical activity by providing space for popular sports, hiking/walking trails, swimming pools, bike riding and other activities associated with an active lifestyle. Many community parks also provide playgrounds, senior centers and picnic shelters.   

People who use parks and open spaces are three times more likely to achieve recommended levels of physical activity than people who don’t. Studies show that spending time in parks improves mental health and cognitive function for all ages. 

“Time spent outdoors improves physical and mental health by decreasing stress, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease,” said Lori Phillips, director of DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention. “Many of us are in front of a screen for much of our day. As a result, we spend less time outside. Our parks provide safe opportunities to be outdoors which can improve mental health, physical health and unite people while strengthening communities.” 

Health professionals recommend the following physical activity levels: 

Combining smoke-free and vape-free protections with parks and recreation creates public places where everyone can enjoy clean air. Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer and heart attacks in non-smokers. Vaping aerosol can also increase the risk of heart disease and trigger severe asthma attacks – especially in children.   

“Healthy recreational environments should promote physical activity, encourage personal development, and minimize exposure to tobacco use,” said Hellen Dekle, DHEC Secondhand Smoke and Vaping Aerosol Protection Manager. “Smoke-free parks prevent children from being exposed to smoking and vaping toxins and help raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use.”   

Going smoke-free is an easy way to protect community health. Smoke-free and vape-free parks provide access to nature that is free from the carcinogens, toxic metals and poisonous gases produced by secondhand smoke and vaping. Smoke-free protections boost local economies, reduce air pollution and litter associated with tobacco use and keep our greenspaces green.   

South Carolina is home to 15 municipalities with designated smoke-free parks. Learn more about the benefits of healthy eating and active living on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Find available trails in your area on Discover smoke-free settings in South Carolina on the DHEC website.    



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