During the pandemic lockdown period, residents had to stay at home and increased stress and other mental health problems have been associated with the lockdown period. Since most public parks were closed, community parks within gated residential areas became the most important green space in Chinese cities, and the use of such space might help to reduce the residents’ stress levels. This study aimed to investigate to what extent urban residents in China used community parks, engaged in outdoor activity during the lockdown period (23 January–8 April 2020) and if the use of such spaces helped to reduce their stress levels. An online questionnaire survey (n = 1342) was carried out from 23 March to 23 April 2020. Ordinary Least Squares regression was used to analyse the association between community park use, outdoor activity, willingness to engage in outdoor activity, and stress level. All results have been further analysed by two-sampled t-test to explore the difference between young and old age groups. We found that the overall self-reported stress level of the respondents was relatively moderate during the lockdown period. Respondents had generally reduced their use of community parks and engagement in outdoor activity. There was no significant association between stress level and the use of community parks or the engagement in outdoor activities. However, we found that older people showed much lower stress levels, used community parks more frequently, and engaged in more outdoor activities than younger adults. The findings suggest that outdoor activities and spatial characteristics in urban China differ from Western studies and advance the need to integrate the stress management role of community parks with urban green space policy to optimise the use of community parks blended in with everyday life, particularly during the lockdown period.


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Cite as

Kang, N., Bell, S., Ward Thompson, C., Zheng, M., Xu, Z. & Sun, Z. 2022, 'Use of urban residential community parks for stress management during the COVID-19 lockdown period in China', Frontiers in Psychology, 13, article no: 816417. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.816417

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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