Green exercise ‘offers major health benefits’
‘Green exercise’ offers significant financial advantages to adults in England, a new study has revealed, delivering health benefits worth £2.2 billion a year.
Backed by the University of Exeter Medical School and Public Health England, the research said green exercise can cover nature-based activities which last more than half an hour and are of a moderate to vigorous intensity.
Running, mountain biking and dog walking are among the activities covered.
After reviewing data on recreational visits to natural places, the research team suggested that more than eight million adults in England take part in green exercise on a weekly basis. That equates to more than 1.3 billion green exercise visits annually.
The experts behind the study focused on people who undertake five or more 30-minute physical activity sessions per week. They worked out the proportion of their weekly physical activity which occurs in natural settings.
‘Easing the strain’
Dr Mathew White, lead author of the research, which was published in the journal Preventive Medicine, said that by undertaking regular physical activity, people can boost their own health and ease the strain on health services.
He added: “We have now worked out approximately how much physical activity regularly takes place in England’s natural environments and how much this benefits adult health across the population.
“Ultimately, these benefits will translate into savings for the NHS – highlighting the need to both maintain and promote our natural environments for exercise and health.”
Inspiring natural environments
Dr Angie Bone of Public Health England, who helped to co-author the work, said millions of people are inspired to stay active by the nation’s natural environments.
She said that people can enhance their mental health and wellbeing by accessing green spaces, while it can also have a positive impact on obesity levels and an individual’s body mass index.
Dr Bone concluded: “This research highlights the positive impact getting outdoors has on our health, emphasising the importance of both promoting exercise outdoors to a wider population and maintaining the quality and accessibility of the nation's parks and wild places.”