By improving provision of, and access to, green space, play space, community food-growing and leisure facilities, the population can be encouraged to spend more time being physically active as part of their daily lives.
This has multiple benefits:
- Improves physical wellbeing: adults who achieve at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise for at least 5 days a week can help reduce the risk of contracting coronary heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and overweight and obesity, or help to manage them where they exist already (Department of Health, 2011).
- Improves mental wellbeing: factors such as crowding, graffiti, abandoned buildings, vandalism, street litter, lack of places to stop and chat and a lack of recreation facilities and green spaces all predict distress and depression. Creation of a high quality and well managed environment, including green space, can enable improved mental health and wellbeing, social capital and community engagement (National MWIA Collaborative (England), 2011; Faculty of Public Health, 2010).
- Contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation: strategically placed green infrastructure can reduce the impacts of climate change by providing natural flood defences as well as vital cooling during heat waves (Natural England, 2009).
- Creates a better place: the presence of green and community space can promote inward investment in the area and make it a more desirable place to live and work; this includes the provision of outside space, food and leisure facilities (Defra, 2013).
“Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities.”
By identifying and quantifying the benefits of green and community space, different partners can be encouraged to invest in green infrastructure provision. Ensuring that green infrastructure, open space and recreational facilities are included in development plans early on is a key way to enable the promotion of active communities.
“Overall, Kent’s population has a physical activity level of 10%, which is lower than the average levels for the rest of England.”
Kent JSNA, 2012