Go Green for Well-being
The 2010 U.S. Census reported 80.7 percent of the nation’s population currently lives in urban areas, and that number is only expected to rise. This urbanization has important implications for health and well-being. The director of the World Health Organization’s Center for Health Development, Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, stated “today’s urban environments can concentrate health risks and introduce new hazards.” So how can we combat urban health challenges?
A study done as a joint effort among Clemson University, Arizona State University and the USDA Forest Service looked at the relationship between green space and different components of well-being. The areas of well-being evaluated were physical, community, social, financial and purpose. Data from 2014 about park quantity, quality and accessibility in 44 U.S. cities was analyzed to assess the relationship with wellness, which was self-reported on a developed well-being index, while controlling for other typical geographic and socio-demographic influences.
The cities with the largest percentage of city area covered by public parks were among the strongest in overall well-being, which appeared to be driven by parks’ influence on physical and community well-being. The per capita spending on parks and accessibility to the parks (measured by the percentage of the city’s population within a half mile of a park) were also positively associated with well-being. Results showed that green space provides physical, psychological and social benefits to urban residents.
Take advantage of the green spaces near you and bring your kids for some playtime, take your dog for a walk or chat with neighbors. Getting out to enjoy your local park can positively impact overall wellbeing.