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Understanding the Direct and Indirect Health Effects of Urban Greenspaces

A green infrastructure approach to healthy behavior and outcome

Yizhao Yang, Hong Wu, Dong Li, and Jie Hu

June 2023, English

This paper argues that urban greenspaces’ ultimate health efficacy lies in them working together as a system and as green infrastructure to provide a variety of ecosystem services. This research examines the direct and indirect health effects of broadly defined UGs. Via a city-level ecological study of 87 Chinese cities, it empirically identifies four latent constructs/dimensions of UG systems and uses these constructs to investigate whether and how UG provision and morphology affect urban adults’ outdoor exercise duration and obesity rate. The findings reveal both direct and indirect health effects from UG morphological measures. But measures of UG provisions fail to exhibit a clear and consistent association with healthy behavior. The optimal spatial pattern of UG systems cannot be achieved without careful planning and design in order to achieve a balance in meeting both human’ and nature’s needs.


Environmental Planning, Planning, Urban Design