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Neighborhood green, social support, physical activity, and stress: Assessing the cumulative impact

Key Message

Different components of neighborhood green play distinct roles in influencing health and well-being. Park spaces are found to indirectly mitigate stress by fostering social support.  Neighborhood vegetation is found to have direct stress mitigation impact, yet the impact is counteracted by its negative effect on social support. Policy makers are recommended to focus on creating structured green spaces with public recreation and socialization opportunities rather than simply conserving green spaces in the neighborhood.

Source

Fan, Yingling, Das, Kirtling V., Chen, Qian. (2011). Neighborhood green, social support, physical activity, and stress: Assessing the cumulative impact. Health and Place. 17 (6): 1202-1211. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.08.008

Purpose

Tthe cumulative stress mitigating impact of neighborhood greenness is measured, by investigating whether neighborhood green mitigates stress directly, and indirectly by encouraging physical activity and/or fostering social support. Data from a recent community health survey in Chicago and two-stage instrumental variables regression modeling are used.

Evidence

Park spaces are found to indirectly mitigate stress by fostering social support. Overall neighborhood vegetation is found to have direct stress mitigation impact, yet the impact is counteracted by its negative effect on social support. When comparing the effect size, park spaces show a more positive impact on health and well-being than the overall neighborhood vegetation level. Policy makers are recommended to focus on creating structured green spaces with public recreation and socialization opportunities rather than simply conserving green spaces in the neighborhood. Previous studies, as they often investigate the direct impact only and rarely use multiple measures of greenness, may have mis-estimated health benefits of neighborhood green.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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