With over 80% of America living in urban areas, green spaces have never been more important. Now that most of the world’s population lives in urban areas, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends that all countries focus on and improve their green spaces. Along with the mental and physical health benefits, green spaces also increase the beauty and appeal of a city.
What is a Green Space?
Green spaces are any areas within a city or urban area that, at least partly, includes trees, shrubs, grass, or other vegetation. Most people think of parks when thinking of green spaces, but cemeteries and community gardens are also considered green spaces. These spaces provide recreational space for the local population and improve the beauty of their neighborhood.
Top Benefits of Green Spaces
Green spaces improve a community’s life socially, economically, and environmentally. Here are the top 5 benefits of green spaces in our communities:
1. Reduce Stress
Urban environments contain a lot of stress. Between traffic, noise, and safety, it can be difficult to relax. Seeing the open space of a park or garden allows us to take a deep breath and not have our focus split by all the distractions of urban life. Green spaces give us all the opportunity to take a moment for ourselves and breathe, improving our focus and ability to concentrate.
2. Increase Physical Activity
Having a space to run or play a pick-up soccer game provides us opportunities to move around. Going for a walk or taking our kids to play ball in the park can make a huge difference in our daily lives. These small actions can keep us healthier, longer and increase our life expectancy and cardiovascular health while decreasing obesity and diabetes.
3. Improve Air Quality
Living in an urban area, the perry of smog and pollution is always a worry. Trees naturally improve air quality by absorbing the polluting particles into themselves and removing them from the air. Through photosynthesis, trees not only absorb these particles but also provide oxygen for us to breathe.
4. Help Keep a Positive Mood
Being able to relax and take a moment for ourselves without the distractions of city life helps our mood. Green spaces, especially community gardens or parks with community areas, allow us to connect and interact with our neighbors. Social interactions are important to keep up our mood, even for the most introverted of us. These spaces don’t just improve our communities, they help build them.
5. Noise Reduction
One of the largest complaints people have about living in a city is the noise. Construction, our close neighbors, and traffic all add to the noises of urban daily life. Trees and shrubs act as noise buffers. When these green spaces are designed properly they can reduce the noise of a city by five to ten decibels for every 30m of woodland. That means the noise seems reduced by 50% for the population living in the area.
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