Research about to be published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that people suffering clinical depression feel better & have improved memory after a walk in a park.
A study led by Dr Marc Berman from Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute with other researchers from the University of Michigan & Stanford University in the US found that a nature environment as opposed to an urban environment is better at positively affecting people’s mood & cognitive performance. It is thought that people’s brains can relax in a nature setting.
In 2008 published research, “Dr. Berman showed that adults who were not diagnosed with any illness received a mental boost after an hour-long walk in a woodland park – improving their performance on memory & attention tests by 20 percent – compared to an hour-long stroll in a noisy urban environment.” So it seems that we all benefit from a walk in the park whether we are depressed or not. http://bit.ly/LBHBnJ
(Note: All the links below are to short videos. YouTube automatically sets the videos to play at lowest quality. All my videos are HD so if you want to watch without a pixilated image, change the settings by clicking on the wheel at the bottom of the video).
The key words above is ‘woodland park.’ I think we have only one park that could be classified as woodland & that is Tempe Wetland. Though the trees are mostly Casuarinas the wetland is a special place & well worth a regular visit. You can also easily do a 50-minute walk around the three lakes & get in some hills too. Once in, you could be anywhere & the bird watching is great. http://bit.ly/NVuMnU
The newest research shows that a nature environment not only elevates mood, but also improves our ability to think & concentrate. The research found that walking along streets also improved mood, but walking in the park resulted in a 16% increase in cognitive abilities, particularly short-term memory in those with clinical depression.
This is important for residents of Marrickville LGA, which has the smallest amount of public green space in Australia & according to the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index published by Deakin University, we are also the unhappiest community in Australia.
We have to travel longer to reach a park, so many may take a walk along the streets instead. This research shows that actually going to the park & strolling for 50-minutes will have more benefit making it worth while to travel to one of our green spaces.
It is thought that walking in a park away from the sight & sound of traffic & other external distractions allows the brain to relax. Many of our parks don’t allow this, as Council places an emphasis on clear sightlines, so you can often see the traffic from one side of the park to the other. Good examples are Enmore Park in Enmore & Wicks Park in Marrickville http://bit.ly/LxNGlm as both parks are on busy roads.
I had a think about which parks in Marrickville LGA would be large enough for a good 50-minute walk & which have enough trees, landscaping & ‘nature’ to fit with what the research described as necessary. I am not including features like playgrounds or off leash dog areas, just the practicality for a walk among nature.
We are very fortunate to have the Cooks River in our municipality as it has many sections of great beauty despite the presence of plastic bottles. There is also the increasing bird life to grab your interest. It’s almost guaranteed that seeing a bunch of waterbirds will boost your spirits.
You can also walk or ride to Brighton or Olympic Park in Homebush via the shared pathways, which are on the whole, safe & excellent. Hundreds of people do this on the weekends & it is quite a friendly buzz down there as almost everyone smiles at you as you pass.
Of the larger parks, Steel Park http://bit.ly/NhfDPz on the Cooks River is good as your attention is drawn to the river rather than any traffic. It also has lots of tall trees & landscaping & I think the park area looks pretty special all year round because of the Poplar trees & the wetland area.
Henson Park in Marrickville http://bit.ly/MHS2lc & Arlington Recreation Ground in Dulwich Hill http://bit.ly/O9DRHV are good, even though there are not many trees, because you enter into a enclosed space & can get a good walk in both places. It’s the same with Jack Shanahan Park in Dulwich Hill as long as you don’t mind passing trains, though it doesn’t really have a nature feel as the trees are mostly around the perimeter.
Petersham Park http://bit.ly/NxSiVF is a wonderful park for a walk because of the sheer size of it, its beauty & the many really large trees, plus garden beds. Johnson Park in Dulwich Hill http://bit.ly/NL0L6A is also wonderful & also has many great trees. O’Dea Reserve in Camperdown http://bit.ly/O9E125 is very popular & has great landscaping. Parts of Camperdown Park http://bit.ly/NVuuxt are also quiet with great trees. It offers a large area to walk.
Tillman Park in Tempe http://bit.ly/Nhavel is lovely & the trains are interesting rather than annoying for me at least. Although Kendrick Park at Tempe http://bit.ly/MvYTEH is next to the Princess Highway, it is also on the river & has a number of areas. Walking along the path at Kendrick Park & following it under the railway bridge & along the river to Tempe Railway Station car park & back again is a nice walk.
Tempe Reserve is huge & great for walking & riding bikes, but it is often very windy & cold & you can clearly hear the hum of traffic from the Princes Highway & Airport Drive. Because the Cooks River & the Alexandra Canal are on the three sides of Tempe Reserve, there is enough interest to help distract from the hum of traffic. Personally, I think Tempe Reserve could do with hundreds more trees to block the sound & sight of traffic & offer protection from the relentless & often ferocious wind & there is certainly room for them.
I also think we are fortunate to have Marrickville Golf Course. It is perfect to get away from it all. You walk on the ground, instead of a concrete path, which is actually very good for you. Once in the grounds you mostly can’t see or hear traffic. The golf course is full of trees, many of them large, everything is green & the river is beside you. You can do a long walk here. 18-holes of golf takes around 3.5 hours to complete.
Of the smaller parks, I think the following have enough beauty to satisfy the nature component & you could walk through & around these parks for 50-minutes.
Beautiful Hoskins Park in Dulwich Hill http://bit.ly/NKWXlz is great & even though it is sandwiched between two roads, traffic is very light & there are many large trees to defect sound. Brighton Street Reserve http://bit.ly/NxQlZk & Weekley Park in Stamore http://bit.ly/Q5aRFw are also good, though smaller in size. Maundrell Park in Stanmore http://bit.ly/OFDFhO is medium sized & has quiet streets on both sides. The beauty of the trees & landscaping in this park allows the mind to ignore busy Stanmore Road. http://bit.ly/MHQZlj
The cemetery in St Stephen’s Anglican Church is a well-known peaceful hideaway from all the noise & traffic of Newtown (althought it is not a park – sorry) & if you really want quiet, try Warren Park at Marrickville South. http://bit.ly/NVsPrw