Recreation and Health

Chester County residents derive value from public parks and preserves by engaging in recreation and exercise for free or at below-market rates instead of turning to private markets for the same activities. There also are considerable healthcare cost avoidance and productivity savings related to rigorous exercise on protected open space. This report estimates the cost savings derived by people who recreate on preserved open space and their employers who save money on workers' compensation benefits and have more productive employees.

$123.7 million in annual recreation benefits for residents

$172 million in annual avoided medical costs

$150 million in lost productivity costs avoided annually

Recreation Benefits

Nearly $124 million in benefits accrue annually to residents who participate in recreational activities on protected open space within Chester County. This is equivalent to $678 per household, per year. This value represents the additional amount of money that residents in the county would be willing to spend in the private market to participate in the recreational activities that they currently enjoy on protected open space.


Avoided Health Care Costs

Physically active people typically enjoy a variety of health benefits, including lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, depression, certain cancers, and obesity. It is estimated that the moderate and strenuous activity that takes place on protected open space in the county accounts for almost $172 million in avoided medical costs annually.

Lost Productivity Savings

Direct costs to businesses as a result of lost productivity are a significant contributor to overall costs of physical inactivity. Research describes lost productivity as occurring in two ways: through absenteeism, defined as, "not being present or attending to duty or work" and "presenteeism," defined as "being at work when you should be at home, either because you are ill or because you are too tired to be effective." It is estimated that businesses in Chester County avoid $150 million in lost productivity costs per year as a result of the physical activities their employees engage in on protected open space.