The Royal Parks have long had a role in contributing to the well-being of its visitors. In the nineteenth century, around the same time that the general public was given free access to all eight parks, enlightened social reformers recognised that industrialisation and a growing urban population, required open spaces to improve the health and well-being of the population. Today, London's population is growing rapidly again and the rising levels of obesity in children and adults is presenting a new challenge to the health of the nation.
Some activities such as cycling, swimming and riding that were fashionable in the nineteenth century are still popular today. Over time new activities have appeared such as jogging, ball games and skating. It is right that the parks continue to evolve and respond to the needs of new visitors. It is however important that all developments are managed properly and do not undermine the intrinsic qualities of the parks.
Of course the Royal Parks are predominantly places of quiet recreation As the pace of life becomes increasingly frenetic and our towns and cities ever more crowded, London's green spaces become even more important for the health and well-being of visitors. Maintaining a balance between passive and more active activities and our responsibilities for wildlife heritage and conservation is crucial.
The Royal Parks Health, Well-Being and Sport Strategy 2010-15 (PDF 165.01 KB) provides a picture of the well-being related activities currently taking place across the estate and highlights issues that need greatest focus over five years. We look forward to working with our many partners and our visitors to develop effective well-being services and policies. The parks are some of London's greatest assets – let's make the most of them.