Ahhh, the great outdoors. Great for your health, too. Because studies suggest that the more we visit local parks, the more fit we are.
Researchers at Penn State crunched the numbers from a variety of studies, for a report they prepared for the National Recreation and Park Association. [Geoffrey Godbey and Andrew Mowen, "The Benefits of Physical Activity Provided by Park and Recreation Services: The Scientific Evidence"]
In a five-city survey, 38 percent of people over 50-years-old said they used a park at least once a week. So these oases are more than just a pretty place.
People on the other end of the age spectrum benefit too. One study showed that adolescent girls do 17 more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every week for each park within a half mile of home. And each additional $10 per person that the government invests in parks and recreation was associated with a third-of-a-day more vigorous exercise by girls every week. Such state spending also drove more strength-building exercise for boys and girls.
All of which should prevent some of the more than $8,000 per year of health care costs per person. So officials looking to do some belt tightening should think twice about cutting parks to cut the budget fat. Because parks cut our actual fat.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]