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      Health Benefits from Nature Experiences Depend on Dose

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          Abstract

          Nature within cities will have a central role in helping address key global public health challenges associated with urbanization. However, there is almost no guidance on how much or how frequently people need to engage with nature, and what types or characteristics of nature need to be incorporated in cities for the best health outcomes. Here we use a nature dose framework to examine the associations between the duration, frequency and intensity of exposure to nature and health in an urban population. We show that people who made long visits to green spaces had lower rates of depression and high blood pressure, and those who visited more frequently had greater social cohesion. Higher levels of physical activity were linked to both duration and frequency of green space visits. A dose-response analysis for depression and high blood pressure suggest that visits to outdoor green spaces of 30 minutes or more during the course of a week could reduce the population prevalence of these illnesses by up to 7% and 9% respectively. Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at AUD$12.6 billion per annum, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense.

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          Understanding environmental influences on walking; Review and research agenda.

          Understanding how environmental attributes can influence particular physical activity behaviors is a public health research priority. Walking is the most common physical activity behavior of adults; environmental innovations may be able to influence rates of participation. Review of studies on relationships of objectively assessed and perceived environmental attributes with walking. Associations with environmental attributes were examined separately for exercise and recreational walking, walking to get to and from places, and total walking. Eighteen studies were identified. Aesthetic attributes, convenience of facilities for walking (sidewalks, trails); accessibility of destinations (stores, park, beach); and perceptions about traffic and busy roads were found to be associated with walking for particular purposes. Attributes associated with walking for exercise were different from those associated with walking to get to and from places. While few studies have examined specific environment-walking relationships, early evidence is promising. Key elements of the research agenda are developing reliable and valid measures of environmental attributes and walking behaviors, determining whether environment-behavior relationships are causal, and developing theoretical models that account for environmental influences and their interactions with other determinants.
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            Increasing walking: how important is distance to, attractiveness, and size of public open space?

            Well-designed public open space (POS) that encourages physical activity is a community asset that could potentially contribute to the health of local residents. In 1995-1996, two studies were conducted-an environmental audit of POS over 2 acres (n =516) within a 408-km2 area of metropolitan Perth, Western Australia; and personal interviews with 1803 adults (aged 18 to 59 years) (52.9% response rate). The association between access to POS and physical activity was examined using three accessibility models that progressively adjusted for distance to POS, and its attractiveness and size. In 2002, an observational study examined the influence of attractiveness on the use of POS by observing users of three pairs of high- and low-quality (based on attractiveness) POS matched for size and location. Overall, 28.8% of respondents reported using POS for physical activity. The likelihood of using POS increased with increasing levels of access, but the effect was greater in the model that adjusted for distance, attractiveness, and size. After adjustment, those with very good access to large, attractive POS were 50% more likely to achieve high levels of walking (odds ratio, 1.50; 95% confidence level, 1.06-2.13). The observational study showed that after matching POS for size and location, 70% of POS users observed visited attractive POS. Access to attractive, large POS is associated with higher levels of walking. To increase walking, thoughtful design (and redesign) of POS is required that creates large, attractive POS with facilities that encourage active use by multiple users (e.g., walkers, sports participants, picnickers).
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              The significance of parks to physical activity and public health: a conceptual model.

              Park-based physical activity is a promising means to satisfy current physical activity requirements. However, there is little research concerning what park environmental and policy characteristics might enhance physical activity levels. This study proposes a conceptual model to guide thinking and suggest hypotheses. This framework describes the relationships between park benefits, park use, and physical activity, and the antecedents/correlates of park use. In this classification scheme, the discussion focuses on park environmental characteristics that could be related to physical activity, including park features, condition, access, aesthetics, safety, and policies. Data for these categories should be collected within specific geographic areas in or around the park, including activity areas, supporting areas, the overall park, and the surrounding neighborhood. Future research should focus on how to operationalize specific measures and methodologies for collecting data, as well as measuring associations between individual physical activity levels and specific park characteristics. Collaboration among many disciplines is needed.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                2045-2322
                23 June 2016
                2016
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland , Brisbane, Queensland, 4072 Australia
                [2 ]School of Public Health, University of Queensland , Brisbane, Queensland, 4006 Australia
                [3 ]Environment & Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter , Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ, U.K
                [4 ]CSIRO Land & Water Flagship, PMB 1 , 107-121 Station Street, Aspendale, Victoria, 3195 Australia
                Author notes
                Article
                srep28551
                10.1038/srep28551
                4917833
                27334040
                8e77d40c-8499-4bdb-adf8-000df3d83480
                Copyright © 2016, Macmillan Publishers Limited

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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