STATES CHRONICLE – Most local parks in the US are designed for the younger population which makes them underused, suggests a new study published yesterday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Across the US, there are over 108,000 local parks and 65,000 enclosed facilities that are managed by approximately 9,000 departments.
Researchers have analyzed one hundred and seventy parks throughout the country to find that most of them are aimed at young people, and very few are made for adults or older people. Girls and younger females are more underprivileged than males because they are less likely to play in these local parks.
Dr. Deborah Cohen, the study’s author and a scientist at the Rand Corp. says the “parks have much unmet potential to be a center of physical activity for adults, older Americans, and females.”
With relatively low investments, the author says these neighborhood parks could be much more inviting to physical activity for all ages.
Walking loops are very good at getting older people to become more physically active. Exercise and fitness areas could also help our senior citizens engage in physical activity, be it moderate or vigorous.
When there are countless studies showing the benefits of exercising, its role in preventing cancer or coronary disease, it’s really a shame and waste to see so many local parks with unmet potential.
Observers sent in twenty-five cities of approximately 100,000 inhabitants each noted that girls are likely to be sedentary, less likely to play organized sports, and poor neighborhoods were also underusing their local parks. If the problem is a safety concern, offering supervision might help.
The observers interviewed the local parks’ administrators and found that they did not track the usage of these facilities, the programs and sports leagues developing there.
The police or fire department, says Dr. Cohen, are able to tell exactly how many people take up their services, but the park and recreational agencies don’t yet have the metrics to report back on the efficiency of the parks.
The research discovered that although parks and the use of local parks are highly recommended for health, the investments made in them are modest. In 2013, the sum invested in one hundred of the nation’s largest cities’ parks represented less than 1% of all health care expenses for each person.
Image Source: Wikimedia