Here, Jennifer Thomson, a PhD student with CRESH, describes her recent research into whether urban communities benefit from local woodland improvements, and places her important findings into policy context.
by Esther Rind
In the UK, as in many other affluent countries, levels of physical activity have been declining in recent decades. In many areas with a history of heavy manual employment levels of physical activity are particularly low. This has been linked to a considerable reduction in work-related activities, coupled with a generally more sedentary life-style and the development of broader environmental factors unconducive to physical activity (e.g. increased traffic makes walking and cycling less safe and attractive). Furthermore, previous research has highlighted that participation in leisure-time physical activity is relatively low across those employed in physically demanding industries. Low levels of recreational physical activity in combination with a considerable loss of work activity would therefore result in particularly low activity levels in the former manual workforce. Continue reading Does deindustrialisation explain low levels of physical activity in the UK?
A new piece of CRESH research has been published online in the journal Public Health this week. The paper “The role of physical activity in the relationship between urban green space and health” can be downloaded here. We looked at the health of over 8000 individuals who were interviewed for the New Zealand Health Survey in 2006 and 2007 and asked whether they were likely to be healthier if they lived in greener neighbourhoods. We found that residents of greener neighbourhoods did indeed have better cardiovascular and mental health, independently of their individual risk factors (e.g., sex, age, socioeconomic status). Green space might benefit health because it provides greater opportunities for physical activity, and we were able to test this hypothesis because the New Zealand Health Survey included information about how physically active each individual respondent typically was. We found that although physical activity was higher in greener neighbourhoods it did not fully explain the green space and health relationship. Therefore, other pathways between green space and health (e.g., social contacts, attention restoration) are likely to be equally/more important.
Author: Liz Richardson