Physical activity is an important part of overall health and well-being—which is why community parks and playgrounds are so valuable.
They provide a great place for people to get active, meet their neighbors, and have fun. In addition, studies have shown that certain neighborhood characteristics—like access to green space and parks—are associated with improved mental health outcomes.
Wondering if a little green space can really be all that? Keep reading to learn more about why you should support the creation and maintenance of neighborhood parks.
Neighborhood Parks Promote Physical Activity
Community parks and playgrounds provide a great opportunity for people to get out and be active. Walking, running, playing sports, and using playground equipment are all excellent ways to get your heart rate up and improve your fitness level.
When there's a neighborhood park within walking distance, it makes it easier to justify lacing up your tennis shoes to go outside for an hour.
Not everyone wants to invest in a private pool to get their daily exercise at home, and many parks have a trail (or several) that have more appealing scenery than taking a walk around the block.
Not to mention, even small parks often have amenities most people don't have at home, such as jungle gyms, swing sets, splash pads, and sports fields. Speaking of playgrounds and sports fields...
Neighborhood Parks Foster a Sense of Community
Parks and playgrounds give neighbors a chance to interact with one another in a casual setting.
Getting to know the people who live nearby can make your neighborhood feel like more of a community, and it can also help to build relationships and trust. These social ties are important for the overall health of a neighborhood.
There's no way to have a pickup soccer game or volleyball match all on your lonesome, but parks provide the necessary infrastructure for casual or even scheduled meetups.
Playgrounds have also long been a favored meeting place for kids to interact, helping them build bonds, understand concepts like taking turns and sharing, and other social benefits.
Another benefit: you're more likely to find people who share your interests when you're doing something you love.
If your normal social circle isn't open to you talking about bikes, the best way to find fellow enthusiasts is to take to the local biking trails. If you're looking for a buddy to help you get back into a jogging habit, you can head to the park and look for accountability partners who are trying to do the same thing. Parks also foster another healthy habit:
Neighborhood Parks Are Great for Mental Health
Spending time outdoors can have benefits for your health, as it can help to reduce stress levels and improve your mood. Even just 10 minutes outdoors can have a significant benefit.
Studies have shown that people who live in neighborhoods with access to green space and parks tend to have better mental health outcomes than those who don't. Spending time in a park or playground can also give you a sense of accomplishment, as you can take pride in the fact that you're taking care of your health.
Mental health isn't the only kind of health that parks benefit:
Neighborhood Parks Improve Physical Health: Part 2
In addition to physical activity, you're also more likely to remember to hydrate when you visit a park.
Think about it: you're already likely to have dedicated apparel for going jogging. If you're going on a cross-country run or a longer hike, you're likely to have a whole checklist before you head out the door. All you have to do is keep your reusable water bottle next to your outfit(s).
Even if your visits are more casual, being outside in the sun is more likely to spark the idea to drink water than sitting indoors.
When you already have your water bottle in hand, it's easy to remember to keep drinking to get the benefits of drinking enough water. As an extra bonus, when you drink enough water, you feel better and your body is willing to work longer.
When you can run or jog for longer, you not only improve your physical health, you can boost your mood by accomplishing fitness goals more easily. It's a wonderful feedback loop.
Ready to Get Outside?
These are just a few of the benefits of neighborhood parks; the ones that can be seen easily on a personal level. There are a whole host of other benefits of city parks if you're interested in learning more.
If you're looking for a way to make your neighborhood a better place, supporting the creation and maintenance of community parks and playgrounds is a great place to start.
They promote physical activity, foster a sense of community, and provide mental health benefits for all who use them—including you.