Regeneration of an urban riverside brings health benefits and savings for the health system

Regeneration of an urban riverside brings health benefits and savings for the health system

News from ISGlobal

Urban design can help promote physical activity and thereby improve citizens’ health and well-being. A new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) analysed the health and health-related economic impacts of the Besòs riverside regeneration project in the province of Barcelona (Spain).

The Besòs Riverside Park is a public space situated along the nine last kilometres of the river’s course, spanning the cities of Barcelona, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Adrià de Besòs. With a surface of 22 hectares, it is one of the largest public green spaces of the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Vegetation on both riversides is composed mainly by grass, with walking and cycling areas. 

The new study, performed in the framework of the European BlueHealth project and published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, decided to measure the impact of this regeneration project on health and well-being.

Results indicate that the physical activity performed in the park can help avoid up to seven deaths and six cases of different diseases every year, with dementia having the most cases avoided – one annual case in women and three in men. Altogether, the health-related economic benefits were estimated at 23.4 million euros.

The study estimates that the park attracts around 6,000 adults per dayThe main activity is cycling – almost half of the users-, followed by leisure walking (38%); 12% are runners, while 1% walk for commuting.


Vert, C., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Gascon, M., Grellier, J., Fleming, L. E., White, M. P., & Rojas-Rueda, D. Health Benefits of Physical Activity Related to An Urban Riverside RegenerationInt J Environ Res Public Health, 16(462), 1–16. February 2019.

More information:
ISGlobal website