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Living Near A Park Might Be Good For Your Health, Says Report

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Griffith Park might just save your life (Photo by Archie Tucker via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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You don't live near a park? Well, you might be at a higher risk for health complications, says a report released by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.According to the report—titled "Parks and Public Health in Los Angeles County: A Cities and Communities Report"—researchers found that mortality from heart disease and diabetes, along with the prevalence of childhood obesity, were inversely correlated with available park spaces. The report also found a negative correlation between economic hardship and accessible parks. In short, neighborhoods with more parks tend to have residents that are healthier and more affluent.

Researchers went on to note that African Americans and Latinos tend to live in areas considered "park poor"—56 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, only 27 percent of Whites and 36 percent of Asian Americans live in areas with limited park space.

"From a public health perspective, access to parks and green space is a prescription for families to have opportunities to be outdoors," said county interim health officer Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, as reported by CBS 2.

Of course, correlation isn't the same as causation, and the report recognizes that fact. "The associations found between park space per capita and the health conditions included in the study should not be viewed as evidence that limited park space caused these conditions," states the report. (Though it kinda seems like 99 percent of the report is implying this.)

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Researchers did stumble on some contradictions. They note that "some cities/communities had relatively large amounts of park space per capita but nonetheless had high rates of childhood obesity and premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

So, wherever you live, don't give up on CrossFit just yet.

The Los Angeles County may lose funding for parks in 2019, which is when Proposition A is set to expire. The proposition, also known as the Safe Neighborhood Parks Act, secures funding for the maintenance and development of park spaces. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the County Regional Park & Open Space District are proposing on a 35-year Parcel Tax that will ensure money for parks.

As we've reported in the past, L.A. has a lot of potential for green spaces but it often goes to waste.