Nav: Home

Urban parks could make you happier

February 25, 2019

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Occupational Therapy have published new findings that suggest spending 20 minutes in an urban park will make someone happier regardless of whether they are engaging in exercise or not during the visit.

According to the study, published in International Journal of Environmental Health Research, urban parks have been recognized as key neighborhood places that provide residents with opportunities to experience nature and engage in various activities. Through contact with the natural environment and engagement in health-promoting and/or social and recreational activities in parks, users experience physical and mental health benefits such as stress reduction and recovery from mental fatigue.

Principle investigator Hon K. Yuen, Ph.D., OTR/L, professor in the UAB Department of Occupational Therapy, said the original intent of the project was to validate previous research findings on the impact of park visit on emotional well-being, and evaluate the contribution of choosing to participate in physical activity in the park in relation to emotional well-being after the park visit.

"Overall, we found park visitors reported an improvement in emotional well-being after the park visit," said Yuen. "However, we did not find levels of physical activity are related to improved emotional well-being. Instead, we found time spent in the park is related to improved emotional well-being."

Co-author and chair of the department Gavin R. Jenkins, Ph.D., OTR/L, said this means that potentially all people can benefit from time in a park. If you cannot be physically active due to aging, a disability or any other limitations, the study implies a person can still gain health benefits just from a visit to a local park.

Participants of the study were adult visitors to one of the three urban parks -- Overton, Jemison and Cahaba River Walk Parks -- in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Data were collected from 98 adult park visitors; four visitors reported that they participated in this study twice. Data from the second participation were excluded, resulting in 94 unique participants participating in the study. These parks were selected for the study because they were the three main public parks in Mountain Brook and had a relatively high volume of visitors daily.

Yuen said several limitations of the study included the lack of objective data to measure emotional health and confining the study to just three urban parks in a six-month data collection period.

Although a small study, Jenkins said the significance of these findings helps reinforce the need for more urban parks and the conservation of those that already exist.

"There is increasing pressure on green space within urban settings," said Jenkins. "Planners and developers look to replace green space with residential and commercial property. The challenge facing cities is that there is an increasing evidence about the value of city parks but we continue to see the demise of theses spaces."
-end-


University of Alabama at Birmingham

Related Physical Activity Articles:

Physical activity may ward off heart damage
Physical activity can lower the risk of heart damage in middle-aged and older adults and reduce the levels of heart damage in people who are obese, according to research published today in JACC: Heart Failure.
How physical activity and sedentary time affect adolescents' bones
A large prospective study in 309 adolescent boys and girls underscores the importance of physical activity for developing bone strength during growth.
Few heart attack survivors get recommended physical activity
Researchers have found that only 16 percent of heart attack survivors get the recommended amount of physical activity in the weeks after hospitalization, despite evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of having a second heart attack.
Parents' physical activity associated with preschooler activity in underserved populations
Preschool-age children from low-income families are more likely to be physically active if parents increase activity and reduce sedentary behavior while wearing movement monitors (accelerometers), according to a Vanderbilt study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
AMPK -- the enzyme that makes physical activity healthy
ampk Physical activity benefits diabetics and others with insulin resistance.
Physical activity good for your health, but what's happening below the surface?
The University of Michigan was recently awarded $8.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the molecular changes that occur during and after physical activity.
Psychological well-being and physical activity in older adults
In a paper just published by researchers at Chapman University, findings showed associations between psychological well-being and physical activity in adults ages 50 and older.
Parkinson's disease patients benefit from physical activity
A comprehensive review published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease confirms that people living with Parkinson's disease (PD) can benefit from being physically active, especially when it comes to improving gait and balance, and reducing risks of falls.
Research shows physical activity does not improve after hip replacement
New research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that, surprisingly, patients' physical activity does not increase following hip replacement surgery.
The effectiveness of activity trackers and rewards to encourage physical activity
Activity trackers such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin and others have become increasingly popular.

Related Physical Activity Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...