April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 18

RESEARCH
Studying the Health Benefits
and Economic Impacts of Parks
By Kevin Roth
I
n 2017, an NRPA study found that local park and recreation agency
operating and capital expenditures across the United States generated
$166 billion in economic activity and supported 1.1 million jobs. In a few
months, NRPA will be sharing an update of that national study (including
data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia). There are many other
facets to parks and recreation's economic story, including environmental, business
development, tourism, and higher property values (and a larger tax base).
Another economic benefit of parks
and recreation focuses on health and
wellness. Greater physical activity,
access to green spaces, and services
and programming that promote better
health outcomes lead to less reliance
on medication, fewer trips to the
hospital and lower healthcare costs.
Last year, NRPA launched a partnership
with researchers at the Urban Institute
to develop resources that help
park and recreation professionals and
advocates make a health-based case
for parks, including the development
of a method to attach an economic
value to those health benefits. In collaboration
with an advisory committee
of park and recreation professionals
and health and equity experts, the
multi-year project will result in the
creation of an adaptable and practical
tool that will provide an economic
value of the health impacts of parks.
The first product from this partnership
is a summary of research
findings that show a linkage between
parks and recreation and better
health and well-being outcomes.
The Urban Institute team canvassed
a wide variety of research resources,
including studies by either NRPA or
the Urban Institute, academic journal
research studies, case studies,
practitioner reports, and guidance
documents and toolkits. In all, the
researchers drew from more than
100 reference documents that paint
how parks and recreation lead to
healthier communities.
The resulting report, The Health
Benefits of Parks and their Economic
Impacts: A Review of the Literature (tiny
url.com/2kd663kd), presents a
thorough review of what we know
about how parks and recreation
support healthy, productive lives
and resilient, cohesive communities.
The report divides its findings into
several categories:
* Parks in Context - Park size,
quality, amenities and composition
all can affect health. This section
of the report highlights research
oriented around quality and
accessibility, urban versus rural
locales, the size of the park, and
the impact that perception (and
reality) of safety has on park usage.
* Physical Health - This section
features studies that show a linkage
between park access and
increased physical activity and
looks at how recreational programming,
outreach and communication
activities can lead to
greater levels of physical activity.
The result shows a correlation
between increased physical activ18
Parks & Recreation | APRIL 2 0 22 | PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
ity and better health outcomes.
* Mental Health - There is
significant research that connects
parks with positive mental health,
resulting
from
both
increased
physical activity and being near
green space. This may include
reductions in stress levels and
antisocial behaviors.
* Social Health - Parks
the
cohesion, which is
have
ability to promote social
associated
with reduced levels of depression,
stress and cardiovascular issues.
* Environmental Health - Parks
have the ability to improve
air quality,
help communities
adapt to changes in the climate
(including providing shade in
areas seeing increased heating),
and provide support to disaster
planning and social resilience.
The studies that this report highlight
(each with full citations, so you
may review the research) provide a
holistic view of how parks and recreation
make a wide and lasting positive
impact on the health and well-being
of our communities. Our next step is
to use this research as the foundation
of an easy-to-use resource to help you
calculate an economic value of these
benefits that you would use to make
the case for greater and more sustainable
park and recreation funding. In
the meantime, I encourage you to review
this report and use its findings as
you tell your community why parks
and recreation is essential.
Kevin Roth is NRPA's Vice President of
Research, Evaluation and Technology
(kroth@nrpa.org).
http://tinyurl.com/2kd663kd http://tinyurl.com/2kd663kd

April 2022 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2022 - Parks & Recreation

April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 1
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 2
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 3
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 4
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 5
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 6
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 7
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 8
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 9
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 10
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 11
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 12
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 13
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April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 17
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 18
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 19
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 20
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - 21
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April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
April 2022 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
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