Are green spaces bad for you?

Carl Costas / NEWSCOM
Joggers take to the path at McKinley Park in Sacramento, Calif.

File this one under Go Figure: A new study has found that people who live near green spaces tend to get out and exercise less than people who don't.

A team of Dutch researchers set out to determine whether a green living environment encourages people to exercise. Their paper, titled Physical activity as a possible mechanism behind the relationship between green space and health: a multilevel analysis and published in the journal BioMed Central Public Health, found no relationship between whether a person lives near a green space and whether he or she participates in sports. The researchers found a negative relationship between green spaces and cycling or walking.

People with 20 percent green space in a three-kilometer radius walked about 250 minutes a week for leisure, the study found, whereas people with 80 percent green space in a three-kilometer radius walked about 190 minutes a week – an hour less.

Reuters spoke with researcher Jolanda Maas, who led the study. She speculated that people in less-urban environments need to use their cars more to get around.

The Telegraph points out that this study contradicts previous studies on the relationship between green spaces and exercise:

A Danish study in 2006 found that those who lived nearer green spaces visited them more often, and were consequently less likely to feel stressed. Another study found those who took part in physical activity outdoors were more likely to keep to their exercise routines than those who exercised in gyms.
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