Do you want to live a long, healthy, and happy life?
It’s easy. In fact, it’s as easy as a walk in the park.
Public parks are known for their beauty or recreational value. But the biggest benefit lies in what they can do for your physical and mental health.
Let’s have a look:
1. Parks encourage physical activity
Everybody knows regular exercise is the key to maintaining your health but very few manage to do it. In a survey, more than 75% of participants said that they want to be fit but only 31% said that they exercise on a regular basis.
One of the biggest problems is the absence of a convenient place like parks. This research confirms that people are a lot more likely to exercise if they are living near to a park. The participants mentioned parks as the most common place for exercise. Another study by the Rand Corporation reveals that 50% of all vigorous exercises take place in the parks.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine did a meta-analysis of various studies and concluded that awareness and access to places for exercise can result in a 48.4% increase in physical activity. It will improve aerobic capacity, flexibility, and help weight loss.
Even if you are not moving a muscle and just spending some time in the park, it will improve your perceived health and lower blood pressure, according to this study by Penn State University.
You should be aiming for a lot more than perception though. You don’t need anything fancy. Parks are the best place to follow a walking or jogging routine and just 20 – 30 minutes of running can transform your life.
2. Parks enhance your mood and mental health:
Are you feeling down? Stressed? Or depressed? One of the easiest ways to improve your mood is to go to a park.
These places have some magic about them.
Research confirms that taking a stroll in natural surrounding can decrease mental activity that leads to depression. Not to forget that exercise is the best antidepressant and sometimes, as effective as drugs. Here’s another study that confirms spending time in the park can be relaxing for the mind.
Most of our mental issues stem from negative thinking. Parks can help you look at the positive side of things. A team of researchers analyzed 2.2 million tweets and found that the tweets from parks were more positive than the ones from residential areas or transport hubs.
The mental health benefits are not limited to mood enhancement. Research has shown that spending some time in parks can restore mental energy, improve short-term memory, improve concentration, and boost creativity.
Oh, and it will also improve your sleep quality so your mind gets the much-needed rest.
3. Green space improves the quality of life:
Green is the color of life.
It is often associated with nature, sense of wellbeing, harmony, and a clean environment. Studies confirm that people with a regular view of trees or greenery from their homes or offices are less likely to suffer from mental fatigue or depression.
Parks are the perfect place to de-stress and wind down after a hectic day. Looking at the greenery will alleviate your diastolic blood pressure. People feel more calm and relaxed when they are around plants and flowers.
Many hospitals have parks or gardens because it supports recovery and improves immune response. Research has shown than greenery can produce positive health, social and environmental outcomes. This is why horticulture therapy is used for mental health treatment, community-based programs, or prisons. People working in offices with natural elements report higher well-being.
4. Parks contribute to social wellbeing:
Loneliness can be twice as deadly as obesity. It is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation leads to problems like dementia, blood pressure, and substance abuse. A meta-analytic review of 150 studies suggests that people with strong social connections have a 50% increased likelihood of survival, regardless of their age or health.
Park is a great place to meet new people and make friends. Research has shown that kids with close friends have higher self-esteem and they do better academically. Not only that, but they will grow up to become more confident and less depressive by the age of 25.
For seniors, living a socially active life means higher late life satisfaction and a less severe decline in the old age.
5. Environmental benefits of parks:
The health benefits of the parks are not limited to people who visit them. The trees and plants have tremendous environmental benefits for the entire neighborhood.
They improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. Harmful particles and gases like Nitrogen oxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, etc. are also taken care of.
They provide the much-needed shelter and keep the temperatures in control. They do it by absorbing water and releasing it in the air. NASA reported an increase of 5º to 8º degrees in Atlanta where 380,000 acres of trees were bulldozed. That’s how big of a difference they make.
Trees can also save water and prevent soil erosion. The lack of trees results in serious problems like heat-island-effect and smog. This is why the US Environmental protection agency recommends parks and green roofs to combat these problems.
6. Spend quality time with your loved ones:
Do you find it difficult to motivate your kids to be active?
Research has shown that children who spend time with their fathers have improved self-esteem, higher IQ, better health, and they are less likely to get into trouble.
And it’s good for you too. In a survey, 46% of people said that their loved ones help them make healthy choices in life.
These are just some benefits but we’d love to hear from you. Are you a regular visitor to the park? How has it benefited you? Please share your thoughts and comments on this.
Guest Post by Sadaqut Ullah Khan
Author: Research Analyst and Writer at RunRepeat.com