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Building healthy communities: The importance of parks and green space

June 24, 2015

In recent decades the connection between nature and wellness has come into the spotlight, demonstrating that those who live in greener communities have better social, psychological, and physical health. In fact, the human-nature connection is so powerful that it has been coined Vitamin G, an essential component to wellness.

Parks supply an excellent opportunity for interaction with nature, providing the public with access to healthy and regular doses of Vitamin G. The natural greenery is beneficial in many ways, ranging from decreased aggression, property crime and violent crime, to improved personal resilience, reduced stress and the promotion of mental health as a whole. In addition, parks offer the necessary space and environment for recreational activities. Recreation supports increased opportunities for physical activity, social connectedness, social cohesion and strengthened relationships.

In light of these benefits, the month of June is dedicated to celebrating and promoting recreation and parks. Ambassadors from across the province are actively engaging their communities in events, programs, and activities to encourage participation in recreation and parks. AUMA’s Healthy Alberta Communities convention policy paper recognized the importance of recreation and parks in creating healthy communities and reinforces the role and responsibility of municipalities to provide these opportunities. To learn more how to get your municipality involved in Recreation and Parks month, click here.

Notably, parks are not the only settings where people can reap the benefits of nature Vitamin G comes in several different forms. Urban-Natural Capital represents a wide variety of outdoor areas which range from urban forests and rivers to soccer fields and playgrounds. Regardless of the type of Urban-Natural Capital, outdoor green spaces continue to have a positive impact on wellness.

Finally, nature and green environments have a positive impact on the economy. Toronto’s urban forests, for example, are thought to provide annual benefits and cost savings in the form of $80 million. Similarly, Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s document Healthy by Nature states that parks and open spaces boost local economy through enhanced property value, municipal revenue, and job creation, amongst several other factors.

If you want to learn more about the health and economic advantages of parks and green space, or if you are interested in creating a greener community, check out these resources: