The significance of urban historical parks to physical activity and public health: A case study in Beijing, China

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Physical inactivity is a significant public health problem in cities. There is a growing consensus that physical activity results in a plenty of positive health outcomes. Therefore, finding a way to promote physical activity has the potential to improve public health as well as to control health care costs. More and more studies have proved that green infrastructure strongly affects physical activity carried out in our daily life. Urban parks eagerly visited by city dwellers are believed to promote walking and routine exercise, thus influencing population health. Based on the above assumptions, studies are conducted in three historical parks in Beijing(the Summer Palace, Beihai Park, Xiangshan Park) aiming at determining how well urban historical parks serve and influence public health for local residents, and developing recommendations for urban historical parks management and revitalization. This paper mainly researches 1) park users’ physical activities, 2) community members that parks serve, 3) space size, facilities, historical and cultural atmosphere, attractiveness in parks as well as surrounding environment of the parks. Questionnaire are developed to collect park users’ view of the role that they feel parks play in their physical activity. Semistructured interview are used as complement for collecting information. We conclude that activity undertaken in the park is primarily associated with the land cover structure of the park and its location within the city. And physical activity is significant positive especially in mental health. These findings suggest that urban historical parks play a critical role in facilitating physical activity even beyond the neighborhood, and the needs also arise to conduct active maintenance and spread cultural knowledge to improve the benefits.
Physical activity, Urban historical parks, Public health, Beijing