Healthy Spaces: Nature and green spaces in cities can be beneficial to human health and well-being

Updated: May 2

A recent article by the World Economic Forum analized the positive impact that nature and green spaces in cities have on human health and behaviour. They took as an example a study led by the National Academy of Sciences where researchers found links between public health and nature’s benefits to people living in cities.

“They considered how activities like dog walking, jogging, cycling, and community gardening are supported by cities’ natural spaces. They also factored in things like distance to urban greenery, feelings of safety, and accessibility to understand how those elements can alter the benefits of nature for different people. From tree-lined sidewalks to city parks and waterfronts, the team created a model framework to map out urban nature’s physical health benefits.”

The article also analysed the recent green infrastructure plan implemented in Amsterdam, where researchers seek to understand how new green areas can have an impact on people's physical activity and the effects of these on subpopulations. Physical activity is well known to have a positive impact on health and well being, for that reason the study aims to understand how urban nature can be an important area to consider for investment.

“Nature’s contributions are multidimensional—they can support cognitive, emotional, and spiritual well-being, as well as physical health. Previous work from the Natural Capital Project has shown many of these connections, but the new research adds an important link to physical health that had been missing from the equation”.

Benefits of bringing nature to cities according to the article:

  • Supports health by encouraging activities like jogging, cycling, dog walking, and community gardening in city’s spaces.

  • “Lack of physical activity in the US results in $117 billion a year in related health care costs and leads to 3.2 million deaths globally every year”.

At MKThink we are also looking at how cities can adapt to our evolving needs over time and how urban spaces can incorporate green spaces to boost human health and well-being.

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