Parks and open green spaces, especially in urban areas, are not just nice to look at, they are actually good for our collective health. Studies have shown that proximity and access to parks had a direct correlation to how people use them and the benefits they receive. If parks are easily walkable/bike-able and are accessible to the residents, they are used. And when parks are used, the general health and well-being of the neighborhood improves as the community spends less time sitting and more time moving.
The National Recreation and Park Association works in conjunction with local governments to secure land, improve existing land, maintain facilities and equipment, and integrate “green” infrastructure into the local parks’ programs. This organization has found that there are many physical and emotional benefits to providing green spaces and playgrounds to city residents. These benefits include:
Improved General Mood and Attitude
Walking in green spaces, especially meditative walking (as opposed to athletic walking) has been shown to increase happiness. And being happy, in turn, improves how a person reacts to daily stressors.
Forest bathing, a practice of walking amongst trees that is popular in Japan, has been shown to ease stress and worry. Physical activity in general is also a good way to work off stress as the body releases endorphins.
Better Mental Health and Functioning
According to an analysis by Stephen Kaplan, “directed attention plays an important role in human information processing; its fatigue, in turn, has far-reaching consequences. His research goes on to state that green spaces and natural environments can aid in improving our directed attention by offering restorative experiences. These experiences help the mind recover from fatigue and improve cognitive function.
Increased Social Capital
The National Recreation and Parks Association points out that “[s]ocial capital, a critical condition for a host of community benefits, is formed from the interpersonal relationships of people and resulting supportive networks. The mere presence of landscape or trees appears to promote community connections. Views of green space from homes are linked to greater perceptions of well-being and neighborhood satisfaction.
The reasons above are why the Gujral Community Fund’s mission includes supporting organizations that work to provide and maintain parks for San Francisco’s neighborhoods. Learn more on our website and follow us on social media.