Personal Benefits of Green spaces

Personal Benefits of Green spaces

Why AFEI Wants You to Take Care of Green Spaces

Personal Benefits of Green spaces

The environmental benefits of green spaces have advantages for individuals. This article has termed such benefits “personal benefits.” Various researchers have found green spaces to benefit individuals in diverse ways. The most highlighted benefits are the promotion of physical activity and individual well-being or health. Green spaces stimulate physical activities such as outdoor exercise and gardening. Individuals near green areas tend to participate more in physical activities [1]. This is true, particularly for children and young people [2]. This activity helps to reduce overweight, obesity, and body mass index in them [3]. Gies (2016) has documented that there is strong evidence that people who have access to green spaces are more likely to exercise, which can reduce obesity and its associated problems and costs. However, when people are unable to access parks, they often go without exercise [4]. This is particularly true for low-income individuals who cannot afford gym memberships [4]. As a result, people go to green spaces and recreation facilities to get healthy and stay fit [5]. Gardening is a form of physical activity that people of all ages engage in [4]. Gardening helps individuals increase strength, endurance, and flexibility [4]. For example, raking or carrying leaves increases endurance and strength, whereas pruning
increases flexibility [4]. Gardening also allows people to unwind, relax, and connect with others [4]. It also lowers blood pressure and relaxes muscles [4]. Green spaces produce an atmosphere for physical activity, which is important for health and well-being [6], which is discussed in the next paragraph.

Several findings from previous studies have recorded a positive relationship between green spaces and health. For instance, a report from the European Environment Agency (2019) demonstrates that access to green spaces has substantial health benefits, such as improving mental health and reducing obesity [7]. Andrusaityte et al. (2020) found a consistent positive relationship between green space use and general and mental health in children [8]. According to Centre for Disease Control research, creating, improving, and promoting green spaces can improve individual and community health [9]. Similarly, a Penn State University study found significant correlations between the length of stay in green spaces and stress reduction, lower blood pressure, and perceived physical health in an individual (Eastern Kentucky University, 2022). Kovi (2016) found that an individual’s exposure to nature in green spaces can benefit their mental health [9]. As a result, horticultural therapy has evolved as a type of mental health treatment based on gardening’s therapeutic effects [9].

As documented by Kovi (2016), residents in housing projects with views of trees, flowers, or grass report less mental fatigue and are better able to deal with life’s problems [9]. Masterton et al. (2020) did a review of greenspace programmes, a health project typically done outside in gardens, forests, and other greenspace areas [10]. They found that green spaces help improve mental health due to some interacting factors that green spaces exhibit [10]. These factors are: the feeling of escape and getting away; having space to reflect; physical activity; learning to deal with things; having a purpose; relationships with programme leaders; and shared social experiences [10]. Green spaces provide benefits such as the reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and cancer; an improved immune system; positive self-esteem and self-image; and balanced life [5]. According to research findings, adolescents and children who have little exposure to green space are more likely to have poor eyesight, be obese, and be subjected to oxidative stress (OS) [3], [11], [12]. Andrusaityte et al. (2020) recommended physical activity in green spaces as a way of preventing poor general and mental health in children [8]. Stressed people feel better after contact with green spaces [13]. Apart from the above, green spaces also serve as alternatives to self-destructive behaviour and harmful lifestyle choices [5]. They also reduce instances of aggression and violent behaviour in individuals [13]. They provide opportunities for social interaction. As a result, social isolation may be reduced, social capital may be generated, and personal resilience and well- being may improve [14]. Green spaces improve our ability to focus, both on tasks at hand and on our subconsciously observed surroundings [13]. They also provide advantages such as relaxation and stress reduction, obtaining peace, and experiencing nature [14]. Dewar (2019) observed that people who walk in natural settings show more evidence of stress relief [15].
Studies have shown that green spaces have a lasting impact [15] on people who access and use them. The personal benefits green spaces give us mean we must promote their existence in our homes, workplaces, and communities. When we take care of green spaces, we take care of ourselves.


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By: Rosemond Akosua Nyamedor, (AfEI)

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva

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