Parks and public spaces are essential for improving public health and wellbeing, in addition to helping cities adapt to the impacts of climate change. So, does outdoor play really keep the doctor away? Let's have a look into the benefits of the great outdoors for both you, and our planet too.
Benefits for You
Better mental health: Studies have shown that people who spend at least two hours in nature per week were consistently more likely to report higher levels of mental health and wellbeing. (Source: Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing | Scientific Reports). This is due to having the space to reflect, and the ability to participate in physical activity.
A good night's sleep: Being outdoors of course increases your exposure to natural sunlight. This improves your health by making you feel more tired at night, shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and improving the quality of your sleep.
Healthy Heart: Spending time walking outdoors has been found to lower blood pressure and reduces the stress related hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. It’s a great time to unplug from the stress and chaos of everyday life and take some time for you! Top tip from us – put on your favourite podcast or audio book and dedicate a couple of hours a week to getting out the house and getting your steps in.
Benefits for Climate
Cools Cities: If you live in or near a city, you’ll know the importance of parks for providing a shady spot on a summer's day, these green spaces provide not only shade, but recreation and relief from the heat for so many people. Cooler air temperatures provided by parks can have significant impacts on human health
Flooding: Parks and woodland have a big impact on flood control. You know concrete, the stuff that is used to build our roads, houses, pavements, offices? Yep, it's not great at absorbing water and this is why we need green space. These spaces are able to absorb and store water reducing the amount of flooding we may experience.
Improves air quality: Trees and vegetation can help reduce air pollution by directly removing pollutants through absorbing carbon dioxide and other emissions and producing more oxygen (Source: nowak-heisler-research-paper.pdf (nrpa.org)).
So, there you have it, the benefits of outdoor space, we hope this blog inspires you get outdoors today. According to research from Friends of the Earth 1 in 5 people in England do not have access to a garden, public park or open fields with 10 minutes of their home. So, if you’ve noticed there’s very little green space in your local area try and engage with the community, speak to your local council and MP and encourage them to make a change.
How do you like to spend your time outdoors? Let us know below!