Urban Parks for Healthy Cities

Urban parks have an important role to play in solving the health and fitness crisis, but too many acres of parkland are not helping people become healthier. How can park systems be designed to be better-used and live up to their potential?
July 16, 2011, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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The Trust for Public Land has released a report, detailing numerous ways in which the park system can maximize their contributions to the health of individuals. Many urban parks make it too difficult to exercise, whether they are uninviting, confusing, or simply don't offer enough choices for activity.

Peter Harnik and Coleen Gentles write, "Even if parks didn't provide all the urban benefits they are known for -- improving the environment, attracting tourists, building community, enhancing property values -- they'd still be critically important because of their potential contribution to public health and wellness. But platitudes about healthy parks aren't enough. If park agencies are to truly justify all the land and tax money they use, they must actually serve their health functions as powerfully as do doctors, hospitals, and health agencies."

Some specific strategies for achieving this goal include adding running and jogging trails around golf courses, adding fitness zones adjacent to playgrounds so that adults can exercise while kids play, and ensuring a balance between unstructured open space and specialized athletic complexes.

Thanks to Ryan Donahue

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Published on Thursday, July 14, 2011 in Philadelphia Daily News Digital / The Inquirer Digital
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