Houston, TX

Research Showed The Significance of Parks with Public Health

Jackson Cutler

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HOUSTON, TX—The ongoing pandemic situation affects all aspects of society, leading to facilities closures and physical distancing measures. The rising number of physical activities, along with obstacles to park-use stating the importance of green space accessibility, based on a new study from the University of Houston.

Some of the UHCL Exercise and Health Sciences faculty members Isabella Kusters, Julianna Dean, Denise Cazes, and Mark Sommer, Master of Science in Exercise and Health Sciences alumnus during his graduate school years, conducted a study to investigate where and when UHCL community members were exercising. They also collected data about their experience and attitudes with the use of public parks.

Their study was just published recently in the Texas Journal of Public Health in an article with the title "Physical Activity, Behaviors, and Park-Use Among Members of a Mid-Sized University".

"In public health, we know that physical activity is crucial for our physical, mental, and social well being," said Isabella Kusters. Houston has high levels of chronic disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, making the physical activity even more important to integrate into daily life. This is why green spaces, such as parks, are a crucial component of a community's infrastructure. They must be readily and freely accessible for communities to use,"

Mark Sommer also explained how he had the opportunity to apply the data management and analysis techniques that he learned in his classes to this study. "I was involved in coding detailed survey responses into analyzable formats, applying the skills and knowledge I gained throughout the Master's program," Sommer said. "Communities and municipalities can take this information more into account when city planning. It will help them make it easier for people to get into parks because people need to feel comfortable when they're trying to get fit."

Through the survey, lots of respondents admitted that they generally performed physical activities that include walking, running, and resistance exercises. And they do these activities at various locations ranging from home, gyms, and parks.

"We also found that most respondents exercised after 5 p.m., and they completed a physical activity on at least one weekend day and at least one weekday," said Julianna Dean. "What this data shows us is that the types of physical activity that people are doing and the times that they are exercising are consistent with park availability if the conditions are right,"

Isabella Kusters said that the results of the study are important for understanding and planning the improvement of physical space in communities. "We do have a lot of beautiful green spaces and trails on and around our campus. However, we must ensure that parks are also integrated within residential areas for optimum public health," she said.

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