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Public Health, City Health: Exercising & the Value of Local Parks

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on May 16th, 2011

Source: City Parks Blog via Sustainable Cities Collective

Photo of Green Gym members: Scottish Government via flickr CC

From “Green Gyms and Medical Miles: Promoting Public Health with Parks” by Ryan Donahue:

We’ve previously looked at ways in which the medical community is using exercise prescriptions as a way to combat obesity and inactivity. Park prescriptions are only a portion of the spectrum of exercise prescription programs. Fortunately, the growing awareness of the benefits of outdoor exercise – in addition to the cooperation of parks departments, environmental nonprofits, and individual parks – means that these programs should continue to grow. Once patients have left the doctor’s office with a prescription in hand, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Someone has to ensure that public parks are meeting the needs of people trying to develop good exercise habits, and that newly inspired patients can find interesting and engaging ways to exercise in local parks. A growing body of evidence that suggests that exercise in the outdoors provides some quantifiable benefits over indoor exercise. A study released February in the journal Environmental Science and Technology analyzed data from 11 different studies that compared benefits from outdoor and indoor exercise programs, and found that outdoor exercise was associated with “greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression.” Not surprisingly, those who participated in outdoor exercise “stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.”[1]

Read the rest of this article by Ryan Donaghue to find out more about Green Gyms, Prescription Trails and an Urban Ecology Centre in Milwaukee.