A Healthier Wisconsin

Relax and Breathe Easy: Quantifying the Health Value of Quality Urban Green Space

Studying how the physical and biological characteristics of urban parks and green spaces influence indicators of physical and mental health

Full Project Name:Relax and Breathe Easy: Quantifying the Health Value of Quality Urban Green SpacePrimary Community Organization:Urban Ecology CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Kirsten Beyer, PhD, MPH, MS, Institute for Health and EquityAward Amount:$198,145
Award Date
Project Duration:18 months

Project Description Narrative:

Imagine if a city dweller with breathing or mental health challenges knew that just blocks away existed a sanctuary of space where the air was cleaner, and one's mental energy could be restored. That is the goal of this project.

Research shows that spending time in natural areas has positive impacts on health. Several main pathways are linked to green space as it relates to health—increased physical activity, mitigation of physical environmental hazards such as heat and air pollution, reduced stress, and improved social cohesion creating a positive sense of community.

Time in green space is associated with a lower prevalence of anxiety and depression, especially among children. Recent studies suggest a positive link between the diversity of wildlife with human health, suggesting a need for more biodiverse greenspaces. Greening is associated with reducing traffic-related air pollutants, global greenhouse gas emissions, and improved environmental quality. Air pollution is associated with an increased risk of exacerbations of asthma symptoms, and particulate matter is specifically associated with asthma attacks, restricted activity, and respiratory symptoms.

The researchers in this project are interested in obtaining a greater understanding of the role of different types of green spaces in affecting health, which is important and necessary to inform and influence a wide variety of practices and policies for city planners, policymakers, and health care advocates. This study will provide new data and insights into which specific characteristics of green spaces are associated with differences in air quality and physiological health measures such as stress, filling a gap in current knowledge.

Community partners: Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, Urban Ecology Center, WisCorps

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
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