The Power of Parks
If the best things in life are free, public parks sit up there with smiles, random gestures of kindness and loyalty card coffees. Those humble green spaces, generously existing for everyone to enjoy, can be life-changing: delighting children, bringing people together, connecting you with nature, creating joy, providing spiritual nourishment… and that’s just for starters. So powerful are the benefits of being in nature, that doctors now write prescriptions for it as a therapeutic tool. Research has found that visiting green spaces may reduce depression and anxiety, decrease blood pressure and improve heart health. Not bad for something you can do in your lunch break. Read on to discover some more of the reasons our parks should be seriously celebrated.
Parks are instant mood boosters
Had a tough day at the office? Overwhelmed by the state of the world? Just feeling a bit… blah? Whatever you’re dealing with, the calming energy of a park will take the edge off a hard day, because being in a green, grassy space is like a soothing balm for your brain. Scientific evidence shows that contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, wellbeing, positive social interactions and a sense of meaning and purpose in life. And according to psychologist Lisa Nisbet, PhD, who studies connectedness to nature, “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. The sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed.” Meaning? The uplifting effect of park time lasts long after you’ve packed up your picnic rug and got back to your day.
Parks inspire connection
From a smile shared to a conversation that turns into coffee, parks are fertile ground to connect with others. If you live in a community with parks nearby, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter the same people, meet your neighbours and experience the joy of being a local. The social possibilities are endless, and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of open green spaces where we can socialise safely. People aside… you’ll also find dogs to pat, birds to spot and the minutiae of plant and animal life to provide endless delight. When you spend time in a park, you need never feel alone.
Parks are completely inclusive
There aren’t many places that embrace absolutely everyone, regardless of age or generation. Yet parks get a gold star for being able to bring contentment to all, from children to centenarians, across a limitless spectrum of recreational pursuits. On any given day, in any given park, there might be babies crawling and parents recuperating; grandparents playing with grandkids; friends picnicking; people resting, reading, dating, exercising, chatting, concocting plans to change the world. Green spaces are inspiring and should be celebrated, if only for the joy they bring to so many.
Parks can transform our health
Parks by their very nature are appealing places for physical activity, whether you want to take a gentle stroll, work up a sweat or turn yourself into a healthy pretzel, yoga-style. And the benefits are greater than you might imagine. Head to a park for regular exercise (just 30 minutes a day according to Australian guidelines, but even less will have some impact) and you can expect to improve your overall health, fitness and quality of life as well as reduce your risk of chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, depression, anxiety, and dementia. Our parks may come in all shapes, sizes and locations, but they all share restorative powers. Feel the grass beneath your feet, breathe the fresh air and take in your surroundings. It’s almost impossible not to feel better in mind, body and spirit. Thanks, parks!
For the month of March, we’re celebrating Park Week (5 - 13 March) and the joy our healthy green spaces bring to communities. Learn more about our Parks throughout the month and join us for a special Friday Food Trucks on 25th March. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more details!