Wellness Benefits | Cal Parks

Wellness Benefits


California’s state park system provides essential, cost effective public health services.

There is a wealth of research demonstrating that exposure to nature supports both physical and mental health.  Open access to places for physical activity, like parks, can help speed recovery times after surgery, lower rates of asthma, obesity, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases. Improving health outcomes in our communities has a significant price tag for our state.

  • Physical activity is linked to immune health, lower medical costs, fewer hospital stays, fewer physician visits and lower use of medication. According to one study, even minor increases in physical activity among American adults could produce nation-wide savings of $76.6 billion each year.
  • According to a 2015 study, there are an estimated 96,550 new cases of childhood asthma in California every year. This results in a direct and indirect cost of $693 million per year, as well as 72,464 ER visits and 10,715 hospitalizations.
  • Access to parks can help lower this burden. One study found that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and acute asthma episodes are both significantly lower in census tracts located within walking distance of urban state parks than in census tracts located outside these areas.

California’s state parks are an essential part of our state’s recovery from COVID-19.

Parks are known to provide health benefits that can lower the risk associated with COVID-19.

  • Access to green spaces are known to lower the likelihood of high-risk pre-existing conditions for COVID-19, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
  • Additionally, parks have also been shown to support better air quality. Early data suggests that death rates from COVID-19 were significantly higher in areas with even slightly higher levels of air pollution.

Our state parks also provide important spaces for relaxation and recovery for Californian’s hit hardest by COVID-19.

  • With the proper precautions in place, our parks can provide safe, affordable spaces for Californians to recreate as we begin to re-open our state.
  • More than half of young people under 18 in California live within the “visitorshed” of one or more of our 280 state park units. That percentage is even higher for disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged households.
  • 53% of impoverished youth, 59% of the state’s disadvantaged households, and 60% of the state’s severely disadvantaged households live within the visitorshed of a California state park.



of the state’s severely disadvantaged households live within a walk, bike ride, or drive from a California state park.


of the state’s disadvantaged households live within a walk, bike ride, or drive from a California state park.