Survey: Parks Are Essential, Especially During the Health Crisis

(April 9, 2020)

Local parks, trails and open spaces are needed now more than ever for mental and physical health

Ashburn, Va. (Apr. 9, 2020) — Five in six adults say exercising at local parks, trails and open spaces is essential to maintaining their mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newly released National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) poll. Popular activities to participate in while keeping a proper physical distance include walking, jogging, hiking and biking.

"Local park and recreation agencies provide safe spaces where people can find respite and get exercise, while maintaining physical distancing guidelines during this crisis,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA’s vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “Park and recreation leaders are working with local public health officials to keep neighborhood parks and trails open whenever possible, so residents can use them safely. We advise all park users to follow CDC and local health department guidance, including observing at least a six-foot physical distance from other persons at all times."

More than half (59 percent) of survey respondents say it is very or extremely essential to exercise in parks and green spaces to relieve stress and remain healthy during this crisis.

Numerous studies show there are physical and mental health benefits to spending time in green spaces, but per public health officials nationwide, adherence to physical distancing is a must to combat the spread of COVID-19. On March 26, 2020, NRPA published a blog, What Does #PhysicalDistancingInParks Look Like? to demonstrate how everyone must work together to ensure parks and green spaces remain open, accessible, welcoming and inclusive to all people during this time. Additionally, NRPA produced infographics, COVID-19: Physical Distancing in Public Parks and Trails and Tips for Physically Distancing in Parks, which are available, along with additional resources to help park and recreation agencies and the public during this crisis, at

Click here to learn more about resources for the park and recreation field during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This poll is part of NRPA’s Park Pulse, a continuing series of monthly surveys that gauge the public’s opinion on topics relating to parks and recreation. To explore previous Park Pulse survey results, visit

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here.

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit   


About the National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit