Living near a park can improve the mental and physical health of Americans - especially youth and teenagers, a new report urges.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that children in the state who grew up within a third of a mile of a park were at a lower risk of becoming obese by age 18 and were less at-risk for chronic health problems later in life.
Plus, the report authors argue, proximity to a park has been linked to lower stress levels, even for people whose financial insecurity places them under greater levels of distress.
They note that parks may offer a free, untapped resource for millions of Californians and Americans on the whole.
People who live within walking distance of parks are at at lower risks of heart disease and obesity - and teens are 30% more likely get an five hours of physical activity a week, a new University of California, Los Angeles report reveals (pictured: a 'super bloom' in California)
Across the 50 states there are about 84 million acres of national parks, plus many more acres of urban parks, in the US.
They're not just there to preserve or improve the landscapes, but to benefit our health.
Although people travel from far and wide to see national parks like Yosemite or Yellowstone, green spaces are arguably more essential to human health in cities.
Acting as oases of trees, urban parks contribute clean oxygen to the environments around them, which in turn helps to improve the air quality for us and reduce risks of asthma, heart disease and more.
They also offer no-cost spaces for people to exercise.
And these benefits to our physiology are good for our mental health and stress levels as well.
In their review of studies on California parks and human health, UCLA researchers saw these benefits born out for millions of children and adults in the sate.
One of these studies surveyed 80,000 California households about their mental health, stress and financial circumstances.
They found that regardless of how poor or wealthy