A few years ago now, I moved to London and one of my concerns about moving to London was that I would loose easy access to open green spaces. I have always found that walking through natural green spaces which feel very open have always had a restorative affect on my mental health and general sense of well-being. I know that now I live in London I am very lucky to live within walking distance of Blackheath, so I can still get my "nature top up". My reaction to nature, made me wonder if their is any scientific evidence of the benefits of nature on health.
A narrative review from Mount Royal University in Canada looked at how contact with nature could help the emotional & mental well-being of cancer survivors. Researches were encouraged by findings that concluded nature could have a positive impact on the well-being of cancer survivors.
Gladwell et al show that lunchtime walks in nature-based environments may provide a greater restorative effect and may improve essential recovery during night-time sleep, potentially enhancing physiological health. While it may be difficult to take a nature-based walk at lunchtime, it is much easier in the summer to take one in the evening.
For those of you that may be thinking, "walking through parks is all very well for you Joanne, but where am I going to find the time for that!". Please read on...
In 201o researched in the UK looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem from green exercise. (Green exercise is defined as activity such as walking, cycling, running, climbing etc in nature). The study found the strongest impact was in young people and just five minutes of green exercises can boost mental health.
Ray H and Jakubec SL (2014) Nature based experiences and health of cancer survivors, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 20(4): 188 - 192
Gladwell, V.F.; Kuoppa, P.; Tarvainen, M.P.; Rogerson, M. A Lunchtime Walk in Nature Enhances Restoration of Autonomic Control during Night-Time Sleep: Results from a Preliminary Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 280.
Barton J and Pretty J (2010) What is the Best Dose of Nature and GreenExercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (10), pp 3947–3955