For 40 years, we have lived by the belief that our community deserves plenty of outdoor spaces to recreate and enjoy nature. With all the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, parks and green spaces have become even more vital for maintaining health and happiness during tough times. We recently came across a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, detailing the importance of open spaces in relation to physical and mental health, and we thought we’d share some of the highlights – as well our own thoughts on the subject!
Physical Activity Reduces COVID-19 Risk Factors
We all know that physical activity benefits your overall health, but studies show that outdoor activity and exposure to nature specifically correlate to reducing COVID-19 risk factors. Exercise is proven to lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes – all of which are linked to intensifying symptoms of COVID-19.
Mental Health Benefits of Experiencing Nature
Mental illness has been dubbed the unspoken collateral damage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The debilitating mental side effects of isolation and lack of human interaction can be very harmful for those who already struggle with mental health issues. Exercising and spending time in nature reduce stress and depression, as well as release endorphins that improve mental wellbeing.
Socially Distanced, Safe and Still Moving
Even as public places have started reopening, many don’t feel comfortable being enclosed in a gym. Fortunately, experts are saying that outdoor spaces are relatively safe during a pandemic when people stay more than six feet apart, wear face masks, and refrain from long conversations with others. With a beautiful Colorado fall on the horizon, parks and outdoor spaces are the perfect place to engage in physical activity.
Recommendations for Urban Areas in the Future
The CDC article notes that those who live in dense urban areas may be at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and have limited access to parks and open spaces. A couple ideas for resolving this issue include an “open streets” style initiative, in which city blocks are closed off for a day to encourage outdoor activity. Additionally, transforming unused natural spaces in urban areas into functioning recreational pockets have tremendous benefits, not only on residents’ wellbeing but on the environment as well. Learn more about this concept with our newest RiNO Promenade project.
Colorado Parks to Explore
Itching to get out of the house and spend some quality time at Colorado parks? Here are just a few pandemic-friendly outdoor spaces that ECI has created:
- Poudre River Whitewater Park, Fort Collins
- Loveland Sports Park, Loveland
- Woodbriar Park, Greeley
- Clement Park, Littleton
- Twin Silo Park, Fort Collins
- Broomfield County Commons Park, Broomfield
- Wellington Community Park, Wellington
- Pasquinel’s Landing Park, Denver
- Mehaffey Park, Loveland