The impact of the built environment on health has been well documented over the last couple of centuries, however it is only in relatively recent times that both the interest and the evidence has emerged identifying the role and the importance of the natural environment on health.
Although it was recognised that rural living could have detrimental impacts as a result of social and geographical access to services, the more direct influence of exposure to the ‘green environment’ on both mental and physical health has only recently been properly acknowledged. The ‘biophilia hypothesis’ that proposes an innate relationship between humans and nature has gained wider acceptance as the evidence supporting such a relationship has grown both in amount and credence. Studies have suggested that exposure to greenspace has an effect on reducing stress, physical recovery from illness and enhanced mental and physical wellbeing amongst other things.
Nor is the role of the natural environment restricted to the countryside. While the health benefits of country living are certainly evident, it is also increasingly obvious that urban 'greenspace' is equally important, whether by providing opportunities for physical activity, play and leisure, growing food or less directly by enhancing neighbourhood aesthetics, reducing the fear of crime or moderating urban pollution for example.
Health and Wellbeing Outdoor Recreation | Resources for Health
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