How greenspace and parks can boost your health

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from North Carolina State University found how parks and green spaces can help alleviate contemporary health challenges.

The research is published in the North Carolina Medical Journal and was conducted by Lincoln Larson et al.

Parks and green spaces provide a variety of health benefits by promoting physical activity, connection to nature, and opportunities for community engagement.

Nature-based programs can even be prescribed by health care providers as part of alternative, cost-effective treatment plans.

The team says that green space is a term that includes both natural ecosystems and key components of the built environment such as public parks, greenways, gardens, and forests, as well as private yards and other natural areas.

Larson and Hipp: Because the benefits provided by parks and green spaces are typically free and publicly accessible, they represent a cost-effective alternative and/or supplement to conventional health promotion strategies.

These spaces are especially important for physical health. They create environments that support active lifestyles and improve access to exercise opportunities.

They also improve cardiovascular health by mitigating risk factors such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity.

In some cases, parks can also foster healthy eating habits.

And they provide a variety of ecosystem services by improving air quality, regulating temperature, and attenuating the impacts of severe weather, all of which impact our health as well.

These benefits can therefore be experienced by people that are both physically in parks and green spaces (e.g., running in a park) and communities that live near them (e.g., air quality and temperature regulation).

Parks and green spaces also provide a number of mental health benefits. People who spend more time in nature enjoy enhanced cognitive functioning and attention and reduced stress.

They are also less likely to display anxiety disorders and depression and more likely to report high levels of happiness and well-being.

Connection to nature and green spaces has also been shown to enhance positive youth development.

Parks provide benefits to broader communities too, providing spaces where people gather and interact to build social cohesion and foster social capital.

The green land cover also yields economic benefits and has been linked to lower levels of health care spending and higher levels of financial well-being and security.

These benefits have been especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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If you care about wellness, please read studies about exercise that is vital to improving longevity in older people, and this type of exercise may slow down bone aging.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about nutrient supplement that may help you live longer like exercise, and results showing one year of this exercise training may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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