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GrEEN ScENES aND your hEalth

a series of studies set up by researchers be advantageous to human health. early powerful tool to help fight the growing

to explore the physiological and examples of this come in the form of urban incidence of cardiovascular disease.”

psychological benefits of nature tested parks established by wealthy philanthropists

the participants’ response to stress during during the 19th century, and in the gardens Go for a walk

and after viewing nature in both simulated incorporated into hospital designs. Our in another report, the english enthusiasm

and real environments. individual research supports this, demonstrating for spending time outside in the fresh air,

perceptions of green space surrounding an association between improved relaxing and unwinding, watching wildlife

home and work environments were health outcomes and engagement with and enjoying the scenery is also keeping

examined, as well as how individuals surrounding ‘green space’.” us healthy - both physically and mentally.

interact with green space and its impact One specific study measured how a the fourth annual report of the

on their health. group of people recovered from a stressful Monitor of engagement with the natural

the research, funded by the task after they had viewed slides showing environment (Mene) contains a wealth

economic and social Research Council scenes of nature. Results showed that of information about visits made to the

(esRC), showed that nature has recovery from the stressful task was natural environment by the english adult

beneficial effects that help us cope with improved compared to when the scenes population. it reports on who is using

stress at work. Conducted by Dr valerie were of unpleasant built-up environments. it, where we visit, what we do when

gladwell at the University of essex, in a separate study, a walk in “green” we’re out there, and how experiencing

it highlighted the power of ‘the great environments at lunch time enhanced the natural environment impacts on

outdoors’ to improve both physiological restorative sleep the following night. our behaviour, attitudes and general

and psychological wellbeing. says Dr Furthermore, if individuals walked regularly wellbeing.

gladwell, “the modern era has brought in a “green” environment, they showed Since the very first MENE annual

a decline in levels of physical activity, significantly lower levels of blood pressure report was published, the proportion

accompanied by huge increases in and perceived stress after just eight weeks. of people taking at least one visit to

physical disability and diseases, as well as “it’s widely accepted that nature is good the outdoors in the previous week

an increase in cases of mental ill-health. for us, but we’re still trying to delve into for health and exercise has increased

today, not only are rates of obesity, what it does for us and why,” concludes significantly from 34% in 2009 to 44%

diabetes and cardiovascular disease on Dr gladwell. “However, our research has in 2013. Respondents to the survey

the rise, but levels of potentially damaging shown that ‘green’ environments can be an also consistently agreed that being out

psychological stress are also reportedly effective stress buster. if we can encourage in the natural environment made them

higher.” more people to enjoy the great outdoors it feel ‘calm and relaxed’ or ‘refreshed and

she continues, “the value of may help increase their levels of physical revitalised’.

nature has long been considered to activity and, therefore, could also be a the survey shows that green spaces

near home are an important part of

modern life. In total, 55% of the population

claim to make one leisure visit or more to

the outdoors every week. visits tend to

be taken close to where people live, with

two thirds within two miles of home. the

survey also shows that 92% of people

‘agree’ that having green spaces close to

where they live is important.

the evidence from Mene is being

used by Public Health england to help local

authorities identify priorities for greening

their communities that will, in turn, improve

people’s health and wellbeing.

Index

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