October 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 48

C O N S E R VAT I O N

HOW PARKL ANDS PROVIDE RE AL VALUE

A three-year study concluded children have a much better
chance of avoiding the obesity epidemic if they live in
neighborhoods where they can safely walk, bike, and have
access to parks and sports fields.

in revenues, or 15 percent of the operating budget.

Health Benefits
With obesity at epidemic proportions,
the role of parklands cannot be understated. An August 2012 analysis by
the Trust for America's Health and the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed 12 states have adult obesity rates
above 30 percent and all states have
rates above 20 percent. The report goes
on to state obesity-related medical costs

totaled $147 billion in 2006 (nearly 10
percent of total medical spending). And
yet the impact of parklands and access
to recreational facilities is well documented: A three-year study concluded
children have a much better chance of
avoiding the obesity epidemic if they
live in neighborhoods where they can
safely walk, bike, and have access to
parks and sports fields.
Research shows availability and access to open space and recreation areas strongly influences how active

people are. Living close to parks and
recreation facilities is consistently related to higher physical activity levels
for both adults and youth. Access to
adequate parklands is critical for health
and well being.
Individuals living near green space
(within one-and-a-half miles) report
significantly better health than those
without such access. A 2008 study reported that living near parks and woodlands boosts health, regardless of a
person's economic status.
Elderly adults tend to live longer if
their homes are near a park or other
green space, regardless of their social
or economic status.
Research also shows individuals
who exercise moderately (150 minutes per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) in parks experience $351
in health savings per year. This rises to
more than $700 for adults over 65. In
2010, research showed 280,600 individuals met this criteria in Mecklenburg
County. Their ability to access parks
and recreational facilities resulted in
$81 million in health savings. These
are real benefits, and real dollars, for
these individuals.
Other benefits of parklands include
building community cohesion/social
capital, attracting small businesses
and retirees, and decreases in crime.
All have been studied and documented. An understanding of the environmental, economic, and health benefits
provided by your parklands can be critical to their long-term success. If your
agency has not yet begun to collect the
data it needs to calculate ROI, the time
to start is today.
Michael Kirschman is Deputy Director
for the Mecklenburg County Park and
Recreation Department, Charlotte,
North Carolina (Michael.Kirschman@
MecklenburgCountyNC.gov).

See us in Anaheim at booth #539
46

Parks & Recreation

| OCTOBER 2012 | WWW.NRPA.ORG



October 2012 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of October 2012 - Parks & Recreation

October 2012 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2013
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2013
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2013
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2012
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2011
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2011
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