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8 Ways Parks Improve Your Health

The Trust for Public Lands wants you to know that parks can improve your health. They list 8 ways that parks and their features can improve you and your child’s health and well being. So rather then spending time spinning away on a treadmill, take your exercise outdoors and discover amazing parks near you.

1) Parks get you moving- 95% of US adults, 92% of adolescents, and 58% of children aren’t getting the recommended amount of daily physical activity. That’s huge! Parks can help decrease that depressing statistic. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Berrigan/publication/5757920_Physical_activity_in_the_United_States_measured_by_accelerometer/links/0fcfd50a2830d51ac9000000.pdf

2) Not only that, but it’s the type of exercise our bodies need most- Nothing builds fitness as well as exercise that raises a sweat and gets our heart pumping. Approximately 50% of vigorous exercise such as this takes place in neighborhood parks.

http://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Publications_and_Research/Research/Papers/SOPARC-Report.pdf

3) Parks clear the mind- People who live closer to parks and green spaces report better mental health- even if they don’t actually exercise there. Time spent in green outdoor spaces has also been shown to boost focus and concentration in both adults and children.

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/04/23/0956797612464659.abstract

4) A park makeover can maximize its potential to improve public health- The more aesthetically pleasing a park is, the more likely people are to visit there and experience all the benefits that the park has to offer. (So volunteer at your local park!)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21088312

5) Features as different as walking paths and skate parks can attract users- You may not think that a humble walking path can attract more visitors into a park, but it really does! And while you’d expect a skate park to attract skaters, it turns out that adding one can increase park use overall-even among those who’d never step foot on a board.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19850067

6) Fitness Zone exercise areas encourage exercise and increase park use- One study indicated that Fitness Zones attract new users to parks, and increase the amount of physical activity that occurs in parks-even among visitors who are not using the equipment themselves. Fitness Zones have proven especially popular with women, who typically use parks less often than men.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1353829211001821

7) Supervised activities and programming maximize a park’s public health benefits- Team sports, clubs, classes, exercise groups-parks that offer these are much more likely to be used than those that don’t. Lack of programming may be one reason parks in lower-income neighborhoods are less likely to be used than those in neighborhoods where incomes are higher.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23515008

8) Parks can help reduce healthcare costs- Exercising at a park is a very cost effective way to stay healthy. Building new parks, promoting existing ones, and creating features that attract users is one of the best ways to create a healthy population and reduce doctor’s visits.

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5577

Texas Children in Nature would add a ninth benefit for kids. Unstructured play and places for children to engage in that behavior is one of the best ways children can benefit from time spent outdoors. Parks that offer spaces that foster unstructured play are at the top of our list!

Find parks near you at www.NatureRocksTexas.org