Selected by the World Urban Parks Applied Research Working Group
This month's recommended research article explores the impact of physical activity in parks on mental health using a case study from Beijing.
Liu, H., Li, F., Li, J., Zhang, Y
The relationships between urban parks, residents' physical activity, and mental health benefits: A case study from Beijing, China
(2017) Journal of Environmental Management, 190: pp. 223-230.
The role of urban parks in improving public health has been analyzed in the context of urban design in developed countries, but has seldom been considered in developing countries such as China. Previous studies have found positive correlations between parks and residents' physical activity and mental health status. In this study, we conducted a questionnaire survey to investigate respondents' physical activity status and its relationship with urban parks. The impact of different activities engaged in during park use on positive mental health was examined.
The average physical activity level of the sample was 92.7 min of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Park users were more active in all forms of physical activity, except transport walking, than non-users. The presence of a park within 500 m from home and park use were significantly associated with total physical activity. Physical activity in parks significantly restored visitors' moods and energy levels, and interaction with nature brought mental health benefits in terms of relaxation and self-perceived confidence. Overall, this study found a positive correlation of urban parks with public physical activity and positive mental health benefits. However, further research is needed to improve the understanding of this relationship in the context of China
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