Council Message by Lynda Roesch
Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, “For Better Health During the Pandemic, Is Two Hours Outdoors the New 10,000 Steps?” More and more research supports an answer in the affirmative. It turns out being in parks can improve mental well-being. There are even tools that score locations based on green space availability.
The COVID pandemic has created mental stress for many. The lockdown and social distancing and even virtual learning and virtual meetings can create feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. This is true for both children and adults. We need to be aware of the mental stress caused by the pandemic and take steps to address the issue. Montgomery’s parks offer one path to mental well-being.
Spending time outdoors offers physiological and psychological benefits. The Japanese refer to this as “forest bathing.” Specifically, studies have shown that green spaces can improve mental health. Outdoor time can result in a number of benefits, such as improving memory and attention. Spending time in parks is also associated with a reduction in crime and aggression.
According to the Journal article, pediatricians in California write prescriptions for spending time outdoors. They have found that visiting green spaces decreases the parents’ stress and increases children’s resilience. In Montgomery, families can use the Park Explorer and Tree Explorer Programs to learn while spending time outdoors. Download the packets on the Youth Programs page on the City website or pick up a packet at City Hall. On April 30, City Arborist Terry Willenbrink will conduct an Arbor Day Walk at 10:00 a.m. in Swaim Park (meet at the Zig Zag parking lot).
The good news for us is our City has 96 acres of parks. Many include walking trails. For example, the following parks have walking trails:
- Dulle Park – .69 miles of walking trails
- Johnson Nature Preserve – .35 miles of walking trails
- Montgomery Park – .36 miles of walking trails
- Pioneer Park – .54 miles of walking trails
- Swaim Park – .39 miles of walking trails
- Weller Park – .64 miles of walking trails
In addition, Pfeiffer Park and Triangle Point Plaza offer trees and green space that can help to calm the mind.
Also, the parks offer a variety of courts for tennis, pickleball, volleyball, and basketball to improve physiological health.
If you or your family feel like you could use a mental refresh, now is the perfect time to get out to one of our many parks and spend a couple of hours a week. You may find that your focus and creativity are increased, and your overall mental health is improved.