More green means less aggressive adolescents, but it’s also good for the entire community too. Parks are one of the most important indicators of the wellbeing of a community. Quantity, public spending and the accessibility of parks all weigh positively to the effect. Green space is good for environmental ecosystems services. It’s also being increasingly recognized for its positive impact on human health both physically and psychologically. And now we know these effects are not just individual, but community wide.
The study “Public Parks and Wellbeing in Urban Areas of the United States” included 44 of the largest cities in the US that looked at data from Gallup, the Trust for Public Land and the US Census Bureau through the lens of the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index which includes five variables. Those are: Physical and mental health/energy, sense of engagement with the community, quality of relationships/interactions/social connections, economic security and purpose/career.
Results found the most important contributor to wellbeing was the amount of parkland. High scores on the Natural Amenities Scale (measure of temperature, sunny days, topography and proximately to water) are also good for community wellbeing.
These, combined with other socio-economic factors created the highest rates of wellbeing. Percentage of working adults and population growth were also positive indicators of wellbeing. High percentage of single households was a negative influence. It turns out that married and partnered couples are happier people.
The amount of park land provides the greatest impact on community wellbeing: The amount spent on parks (park quality) and accessibility (amount of population within ½ mi. of a park) are important, however their positive wellbeing effects are much less than the quantity of park land available.
Protecting our urban parks has never been more important. If you’re interested in more on parks and health visit ParkRx.
NewTerrain August 15, 2016