Access to public parks as a place-based health prevention strategy

Date: June 18, 2015
Location: College Park, MD

Access to public spaces, such as parks, green spaces or green infrastructure, has shown to be associated with improved levels of physical activity. This finding holds the potential to remedy the persistent and global increase of physical inactivity, which was inferred to be one of the causes for the worldwide increase of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as chronic and heart diseases. Prevention strategies to reduce NCDs have focused on “individual-based” approaches toward behavior change (e.g. personalized dietary and physical activity recommendations from health professionals). Other strategies—used more commonly in urban planning—make use of the public environment to impact our behavior. These strategies are referred to as “place-based” approaches toward health prevention, and one of their benefits lies in the ability to reach more people without direct intervention of health professionals, which is more cost-effective and can reach more socio-economic groups at once.

Public parks are an already-existing urban infrastructure that offers space for regular physical activity. Therefore, these spaces can be used to implement place-based health prevention strategies against NCDs. Coline Dony will present her research regarding access to public parks in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and how this access can help make recommendations for the planning of effective and equitable place-based health prevention strategies.

Coline Dony is a Business Intelligence Intern at Optimal Solutions Group, LLC currently pursuing a Ph.D. in geography and urban regional analysis from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received an M.A. in geography and urban regional analysis from the same.