In a time when people are spending so much time indoors, parks are now serving an essential role. In a study, researchers have found that there’s a huge benefit to having outdoor spaces.
As people search for ways to cope with loneliness when working from home and having their social contact restricted, parks have become a vital part of many people’s routine.
Researchers from Drexel University carried out the study. It shows that citizens having access to safe public parks has been an essential way of coping during lockdowns.
Despite there being some concerns that gatherings in parks would mean an increase in COVID-19 cases, the researchers found that, in fact, the opposite was true.
Due to the reduced risk of being outside, it hasn’t caused a huge spike in infections. And, it’s helped people to improve their mental health and feel less isolated.
The researchers collected data from 15 different parks in Philadelphia and 7 in New York City between May and July last year.
The participants were people who used the park regularly, as well as residents in the local area who were able to observe activity in the parks during the pandemic.
They then used these responses, along with data on COVID-19 cases in the local area, to determine how much park activity affected infection rates.
In the end, the researchers found that the benefits of parks far outweigh the risks, even in the current climate.
Furthermore, they found that even in the most densely populated areas, where parks are usually more crowded, infection rates remained stable with increased activity.
Researcher Franco Monalto, Ph.D., who was involved in the study, noted, “Despite early speculation that parks could become gathering points for large groups of people and contribute to transmission of COVID-19, our research did not find a strong correlation between COVID-19 cases in neighborhoods near parks and the number of people using them. ”