A study led by the University of Queensland and ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions has found those who spent 30 minutes or more in parks are less likely to have high blood pressure or mental health issues.
Commenting on the findings, University of Queensland lead researcher Dr Danielle Shanahan explained “if everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine per cent fewer cases of high blood pressure. Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense.”
Dr Shanahan feels that there should be more encouragement for people to spend time in green space, adding “we need more support and encouragement of community activities in natural spaces. For example, the Nature Play programs in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia provide heaps of ideas for helping kids enjoy the great outdoors. Our children especially benefit from spending more time outdoors. Kids who grow up experiencing natural environments may benefit developmentally and have a heightened environmental awareness as adults than those who don’t.”
University of Queensland co-researcher Associate Professor Richard Fuller, said the research could transform the way people viewed urban parks.
Professor Fuller added “we’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits. We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits.”
Article sourced from Australian Leisure Management