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Visiting parks is good for your health, says UBC study

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows many parks provide opportunities
Kanaka Creek Regional Park. (Metro Vancouver/Special to The News)

If you are getting out onto the dikes or hitting the trails of Golden Ears Park this weekend, you are likely doing your body a lot of good, according to a UBC study.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District notes residents have flocked to regional parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, showing officials that these parks support community resilience in times of stress and adversity. The Kanaka Creek Regional Park in Maple Ridge and the Pitt River Greenway in Pitt Meadows have been growing tremendously in popularity, according to Metro stats.

There is also a growing body of research providing concrete evidence that connecting with nature is vital to residents’ physical and mental well-being. Metro Vancouver is one of many stakeholders in the Where Matters study led by Dr. Larry Frank at UBC’s Health and Community Design Lab. The study examines the relationship between health and the built environment.

The study found people with access to many parks were:

• 20 per cent more likely to walk for leisure or recreation

• 33 per cent more likely to meet the weekly recommended level of physical activity

• 43 per cent less likely to be obese

• 37 per cent less likely to have diabetes

• 39 per cent less likely to have heart disease

• 19 per cent less likely to have stressful days

• 23 per cent more likely to have a strong sense of community belonging compared to those living in an area with no parks.

The study also found sizeable cost savings to the health-care system as a result of these health benefits.

READ ALSO: Thousands enjoy Maple Ridge park as city warns about social distancing

READ ALSO: Winter weather doesn’t discourage park users

For more information see the policy brief that summarizes the Where Matters study findings.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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