Elderly and Business-people (commuting and lunching) – Pam
Unemployed and Homeless – Daisy
Children and Teenagers – Haruka
Dog-walkers and Sports/Fitness – Eunhye
Furtherfield – Olga
The public park movement, which started in the 1830s, sprang mainly out of a desire to improve health in the over-crowded conditions of the rapidly growing industrial towns. By the end of the Victorian era the need for public open space had become widely appreciated. Increasingly, parks additionally became symbols of civic pride, providing inhabitants and visitors alike with attractive surroundings in which to enjoy their leisure time. In the minds of their promoters they also assumed a social role as places of betterment for the lower levels of society. To encourage their use more attractions were provided: music, sports facilities, and horticultural displays, and the park was frequently coupled to a museum, art gallery or library. As it became clear that open space within a town brought many benefits, so more councils actively sought to secure parks and recreation grounds, changes in legislation from central government aiding their efforts. The height of the parks movement coincided with a fashion for munificent philanthropic gestures, and the gift of a park from a wealthy citizen became a common occurrence. Those less well off frequently did their bit too, and much open space was secured by public subscription. More public parks were opened between 1885 and 1914 than either before or after this period.
• National Planning Policy Guidance 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation (2002) identifies the contribution of open spaces, sport and recreation to people’s quality of life. Green spaces in urban areas perform vital functions as areas for nature conservation and biodiversity. By acting as ‘green lungs’ they can assist in meeting objectives to improve air quality. Well planned and maintained open spaces and good quality sports and recreational facilities can play a major part in improving people’s sense of well being in the place they live. As a focal point for community activities, they can provide opportunities for people to socially interact. Open spaces, sports and recreational facilities have a vital role to play in promoting healthy living and preventing illness, and in the social development of children of all ages through play, sporting activities and interaction with others.
Physical activity opportunities in parks help to increase fitness and reduce obesity.
Overweight and obesity are epidemic problems across the country, and related conditions such as diabetes are on the rise. Scientists attribute these worrisome trends to two factors: more calories consumed, and fewer calories burned. A primary focus of attention is providing environments where people can be physically active. Parks offer such an opportunity.
- Active park users were less likely to be overweight than those who had longer park visits and either used the park for passive activities or did not use the park at all;
- Active park use was negatively related to visits to a physician other than routine checkups; and
- The level of physical activity was the strongest predictor of lower blood pressure.
A study in the October 2000 issue of The Physician and Sportsmedicine found that physically active individuals had lower annual direct medical costs than did inactive people. The cost difference was $330 per person, based on 1987 dollars. If all inactive American adults became physically active, the potential savings could be $29.2 billion in 1987 dollars, or $76.6 billion in 2000 dollars.
Certain features predict greater use for physical activity. These include accessibility, proximity, good lighting, toilets and drinking water, and well-designed and well-maintained paths, as well as attractive scenery (Frumkin, 2003).
– Why do you think outdoor fitness is important for the community?
People get together and now they have a shared interest: meeting new people, exercising together, and sharing experiences. It unites them, makes them stronger. It also encourages others to come out and do the same. One helps the other and, before you know it, it becomes the focal point, the one thing that everyone can do and enjoy doing.
Brooklyn Bridge Park: Park People