UHCL study shows parks, recreational spaces significant to public health

According to a University of Houston-Clear Lake study, safety, maintenance, a relaxing atmosphere and easy parking are big factors for residents when choosing to enjoy leisure activities at a park. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
According to a University of Houston-Clear Lake study, safety, maintenance, a relaxing atmosphere and easy parking are big factors for residents when choosing to enjoy leisure activities at a park. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

According to a University of Houston-Clear Lake study, safety, maintenance, a relaxing atmosphere and easy parking are big factors for residents when choosing to enjoy leisure activities at a park. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

The importance of accessible parks and green spaces for recreational use has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new University of Houston-Clear Lake study published in July.

UHCL researchers focused on where and when members of its community are exercising, according to a news release. The study centered around the experiences and attitudes toward using public parks, which emphasized the importance of the accessibility to green spaces, according to the release.

“In public health, we know that physical activity is crucial for our physical, mental and social well-being,” said Isabelle Kusters, a UHCL exercise science faculty member. “Houston has high levels of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, making physical activity even more important to integrate into daily life.”

Because of the high levels of chronic disease across the city, Kusters said green spaces, such as parks, are key to a community’s infrastructure.

Many of those surveyed for the study reported they usually performed activities such as walking, running and resistance exercises across multiple locations, including their home, gyms or at parks, according to the news release.


Additionally, most respondents said they exercised after 5 p.m., and on at least one weekend day and at least one weekday, said Julianna Dean, also an exercise science faculty member.

Safety, maintenance, a relaxing atmosphere and easy parking were also identified as important criteria for parks to meet, according to respondents in the study.

“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,” Dean said.

Kusters said the results of the study can help improve the physical spaces within the Houston area.

“We do have a lot of beautiful green spaces and trails on and around our campus,” Kusters said. “However, we must ensure that parks are also integrated within residential areas for optimum public health.”
By Andy Yanez

Reporter, Pearland/Friendswood

Andy joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Houston. He started off as the South Houston Metro Reporter where he helped each different edition in the South Houston market before transitioning to the Pearland/Friendswood market in August 2021. Andy covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Andy served as the sports editor of The Cougar, UH's student newspaper, where he covered the university's athletics beat for two years and got to cover the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four in Indianapolis.



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