The natural environment can make a positive contribution to everyone’s health, throughout a person’s entire life course, starting in the womb and continuing right through to old age. Environments can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies. What is seen, heard and experienced at any moment changes not only mood but how nervous, endocrine and immune systems work. Being in natural environments or even viewing scenes of nature affects our emotional and physical wellbeing by:
- Reducing anger, fear and stress and increasing positive feelings.
- Reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
- Thereby reducing the likelihood of experiencing chronic diseases.
Our aim for Naturally Healthy
For communities to have regular access and exposure to biodiverse landscapes to enhance health and wellbeing, give children the best start in life and reduce the costs of long term conditions and social care.
- Work collaboratively to ensure everyone has access to a good quality natural environment to support healthy choices by encouraging greater movement, exercise and social cohesion.
- Support the expansion of nature based social prescribing across North East England to help health professionals, individuals and communities prevent and proactively manage ill health.
- Make the case for the population wide benefits derived from making space for nature across the life course to create happy, healthy and connected communities.
Nature for better health across the lifecourse
There is a wealth of evidence on the benefits of the natural environment for health, but it is important that this is acted on positively to create environments that are beneficial to human health rather than just recognising the benefits where they fortuitously occur. The role of nature in good health and wellbeing goes beyond activity in natural assets (parks, playing fields, national parks etc). In fact the greatest population health wide benefits come from daily passive exposure to nature. This means the aspects of nature we can experience everyday when going about our daily lives such as; street trees, woodlands, hedgerows, wildflowers, ponds, pollinators and birds. They are even more important to our health in urban areas.
Benefits of Nature
1. Improvements in mental health and wellbeing
2. Lower rates of obesity
3. Higher levels of physical activity
4. Better self-rated health
5. Increased longevity in older people
6. Cleaner air with improved respiratory health