Relax & Breathe Easy

A Research Study in Wisconsin, USA

The Urban Ecology Center partnered with Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Wiscorps, and the Medical College of Wisconsin to better understand the benefits of spending time in greenspace, and whether different features (such as biodiversity, air quality, and amount of vegetation) may play a role in affecting physical and/or mental health. The partners were especially interested in learning from neighbors and studying parks in urban areas, where access to nature is more limited. Working with several community-based organizations throughout Milwaukee and LaCrosse allowed them to recruit 73 participants who also served as community scientists and data collectors, using devices to gather information on individual stress levels and environmental health. Click on our map below to explore the results of the study and learn more about the parks near YOU!

Data Collection

Pre-walk Surveys

Demographics, park use, self reported stress/affect, digit span test to measure attention restoration

Take a Walk

Carry devices: Airbeam, weather monitor, GPS

Post-walk Surveys

Self reported stress/affect, digit span test measure attention restoration

Parks Surveyed

  • Riverside Park (Milwaukee)
  • Three Bridges Park (Milwaukee)
  • Washington Park (Milwaukee)
  • Kosciuszko Park (Milwaukee)
  • Pulaski Park (Milwaukee)
  • Kinnickinnic River Trail (Milwaukee)
  • Myrick Park (La Crosse)
  • La Crosse River Marsh (La Crosse)

Participant Quotes

““Loved the chickadees and others serenading me, distracted by a loud splash in the river that I wanted to be a beaver.”
“I love trees so the variety and number of them made me happy. Squirrels abounded. Ducks and turtle in water was fun to see."
“I felt relaxed to hear bug and frog sounds at the pond and reminisced about my youthful home. I felt much more relaxed and definitely commented about needing mid-day walks more often.”
“I was on a trail for the first time in 32 years of living here. It was fabulous. I don't know how I missed it all this time. It was quiet with beautiful views of the bluffs. I left relaxed and took time to take in the view.”
“I feel more energized and optimistic after this walk.”.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be in nature and away from my phone and homework this weekend. Walking makes me feel very at ease and peaceful.”
“I really enjoyed the smell of fresh air and seeing the water levels after rain. I could feel myself starting to take more of the outdoors in than when I do my usual, daily morning walk which was nice.”


Medical College of Wisconsin Logo
Sixteenth Street Environmental Health Logo
The Nature Place Logo

See the Data

Explore the data with an interactive data application. Opens in a new window.

Check it out
A view of the Washington Park building from across the Washington Park lagoon