More Parks Better Health: An Assessment of Park Quality on Health
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The potential mechanisms by which parks might affect health fall into two general categories; health effects of parks can be depicted as physical or mental (sometimes termed psychological) (Lee and Maheswaran, 2010). Parks provide direct access to walking, running, and biking paths, whereas greenspace simply provides a more pleasant environment which may entice outdoor physical activity. Greenspace is also associated with psychological health outcomes, such as positive moods and increased abilities to concentrate (de Vries, et al, 2003), and social health through community contact (Baur, Gomes, and Tynon, 2013). It is not clear whether the effects ascribed to greenspace also hold for parks, and vice versa.
The present study attempts to establish a correlation between health and parks and has several advantages over past research. Parks are also not created equal, the accessibility, quality, and quantity matters (Lee and Maheswaran, 2010). Therefore, localized studies cannot be generalizable; however, at the city level of analysis the variability of parks within a city is captured. This study uses a regression to test the effect of parks on health outcomes across major US cities. The key finding is that the quantity and quality of park space is correlated with a reduction in days of self-reported poor physical health.
Baur, J. W., Gomez, E., & Tynon, J. F. (2013). Urban nature parks and neighborhood social health in Portland, OR. Journal of Park Recreation Administration 31(4), 23-44.
De Vries, S., Verheij, R.A., Groenewegen, P. P., & Spreeuwenberg, P. (2003). Natural environments – healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between greenspace and health. Environment and Planning A, 35, 1717 – 1731.
Groenewegen, P.P. , van den Berg, A.E., Maas, J. , Verheij , R.A., & de Vries, S. (2012)
Is a Green Residential Environment Better for Health? If So, Why?, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102:5,996-1003
Lee, A.C., & Maheswaran, R. (2010). The health benefits of urban green spaces: a review of the evidence. Journal of Public Health, 33(2), 212-222.