Health Benefits

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Healthy Parks, Healthy People: The Health Benefits of Contact with Nature in a Park Context – A Review of Relevant Literature
Cecily Maller, Claire Henderson-Wilson, Anita Pryor, et al.
Deakin University and Parks Victoria (http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/
Mon, 2008-03-03
Although still in the relatively early stages, research indicates that contrary to popular thinking, humans may be dependent on nature for psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs that are difficult to satisfy by other means. Findings so far demonstrate that access to nature plays a vital role in human health, wellbeing, and development that has not been fully recognised. This review is an examination of a broad cross-section of published literature that relates to the potential and actual health benefits of contact with nature, particularly but not only, in a park context.... Evidence in the literature shows that among other benefits viewing nature is positive for health in terms of recovering from stress, improving concentration and productivity, and improving psychological state, particularly of people in confined circumstances such as prisons and hospitals. Furthermore, wilderness and related studies clearly demonstrate that being in a natural environment affects people positively, particularly in terms of mental health. There are also multiple benefits from brief encounters with nature, or experiencing nature on a smaller scale, such as in urban parks.”
Greenspace and Quality of Life: A Critical Literature Review
Simon Bell, Val Hamilton, Alicia Montarzino, et al.
Greenspace Scotland (http://www.greenspacescotland.org.uk/)
Fri, 2008-08-01
This review from Scotland investigates a number of components, including: • Health and wellbeing • Social and community value of greenspaces • Economic value/impacts of greenspaces • Environmental value of greenspaces • Planning and design The review found an increasing evidence base supporting the health benefits of greenspace, but also highlights areas where addition research is needed. This includes evidence related to community capacity and greenspace, biodiversity values of greenspace and ecological connectivity in urban greenspace.
Healthy by Nature Vancouver Charter
Tue, 2008-11-11
Developed at the 2011 Heatlhy by Nature Conference
Children in the Outdoors: A Literature Review
Sarah-Anne Munoz
Sustainable Development Research Centre
Thu, 2009-01-01
This 2009 literature review investigates the link between outdoor use and the associated effects on health and well-being in children. The authors found a positive relationship between use of the outdoors and health, in particular, that access to the outdoors is associated with increased physical activity. In addition, the authors explore the growing body of literature linking being outdoors with higher levels of well-being and physiological benefits, such as stress reduction. This review also investigates factors that may constrain or enable the use of outdoor space, focusing on the role that parents, teachers, and society in general, play in getting children into the outdoors.
Outdoor Recreation, Health, and Well-being
Geoffrey Godbey
Resources for the Future (http://www.rff.org/Pages/default.aspx)
Fri, 2009-05-01
“The research literature on outdoor recreation as it relates to human health is vast and growing. To help policymakers take new and emerging findings into account when designing recreation and park services and initiatives for the 21st century, this paper summarizes the salient issues and identifies research gaps. It considers how being outside in natural surroundings may improve health and how outdoor physical activities benefit participants. Particular attention is given to children’s health problems that can be mitigated through outdoor play, sports, and nature study. The paper describes approaches to measuring physical activity and recent trends in park visitation and outdoor activity participation. It looks at variables that affect participation in outdoor activities and considers the projected demographic changes that will affect policymaking in this arena. The findings of this literature review point to potential new directions for outdoor recreation policy, as well as new policy questions to be explored.”
Outdoor Recreation, Health, and Wellness: Understanding and Enhancing the Relationship
Geoffrey Godbey www.geoffreygodbey.com
Resources for the Future: Outdoor Resources Review Group www.rwjf.org/‎
Sat, 2009-05-02
"The research literature on outdoor recreation as it relates to human health is vast and growing. To help policymakers take new and emerging findings into account when designing recreation and park services and initiatives for the 21st century, this paper summarizes the salient issues and identifies research gaps. It considers how being outside in natural surroundings may improve health and how outdoor physical activities benefit participants. Particular attention is given to children’s health problems that can be mitigated through outdoor play, sports, and nature study. The paper describes approaches to measuring physical activity and recent trends in park visitation and outdoor activity participation. It looks at variables that affect participation in outdoor activities and considers the projected demographic changes that will affect policy making in this arena. The findings of this literature review point to potential new directions for outdoor recreation policy, as well as new policy questions to be explored."
Children’s Nature Deficit: What We Know – and Don’t Know
Cheryl Charles, Richard Louv
Children & Nature Network (http://www.childrenandnature.org/)
Tue, 2009-09-01
“While studies are accumulating, more research needs to be done, including establishing baselines and defining what constitutes meaningful experiences in nature. Direct measures are needed of children’s actual time in nature and the quality of their experiences in the natural world. Despite the number of studies and other findings described below, the relationship between children and nature has been understudied. Much of the research to date has been limited, although the body of research overall is generally consistent and provides insights into both the indicators of the nature deficit in children’s lives, and the benefits to children’s healthy development by direct experiences with nature in their everyday lives.”
Nature, Childhood, Health and Life Pathways.
Jules Pretty, et al.
University of Essex, Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society. http://www.essex.ac.uk/esi/
Thu, 2009-12-31
This paper examines the importance between the quality of exposure to open green space and access to nature and the wellbeing of children.
Parks and Other Green Environments: Essential Components of a Healthy Human Habitat
Frances Kuo
National Recreation and Park Association (http://www.nrpa.org/)
Fri, 2010-01-01
“Access to nature, whether it is in the form of bona fide natural areas or in bits or views of nature, impacts psychological, as well as social functioning. Greater access to green views and green environments yields better cognitive functioning; more proactive, more effective patterns of life functioning; more self-discipline and more impulse control; greater mental health overall; and greater resilience in response to stressful life events. Less access to nature is linked to exacerbated attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, more sadness and higher rates of clinical depression. People with less access to nature are more prone to stress and anxiety, as reflected not only by individuals’ self-report but also measures of pulse rate, blood pressure, and stress-related patterns of nervous system and endocrine system anxiety, as well as physician-diagnosed anxiety disorders. The impacts of parks and green environments on human health extend beyond social and psychological health outcomes to include physical health outcomes. Greener environments enhance recovery from surgery, enable and support higher levels of physical activity, improve immune system functioning, help diabetics achieve healthier blood glucose levels, and improve functional health status and independent living skills among older adults. By contrast, environments with less green are associated with greater rates of childhood obesity; higher rates of 15 out of 24 categories of physician-diagnosed diseases, including cardiovascular diseases; and higher rates of mortality in younger and older adults. Most important, all of these studies take into account the role that income might play in an apparent link between access to nature and physical health outcomes. While it is true that richer people tend to have both greater access to nature and better physical health outcomes, the comparisons here show that people of the same socioeconomic status who have greater access to nature have better physical health outcomes.”
The Benefits of Physical Activity Provided by Park and Recreation Services: The Scientific Evidence.
Geoffrey Godbey Andrew Mowen
National Recreation and Park Association http://www.nrpa.org
Wed, 2010-12-01
"In an era in which health costs have become the biggest single expenditure in U .S society, the central importance of physical activity in preventing and improving a wide variety of health problems is now well understood. As this. has happened, public park and recreation services’ central role in promoting and providing physical activity has been increasingly documented by scientific research. Public park and recreation services are becoming part of the healthcare system of the United States and are now recognized as such. This paper explains the scientific basis for this change."