It is becoming increasingly documented that the natural environment can be beneficial to our health. Everything from taking a walk in the park to volunteering on nature reserves can provide the physical exercise and mental relaxation required to lead a healthy life.
Physical exercise can result from a simple stroll in the woods can help to combat the issues of obesity and cardiovascular disease. A step further and volunteering on a local project or nature reserve can provide a full day or more of physical activity, leading to increased physical well being and resilience to illness. Obesity and physical inactivity cost England £2.5 billion and £8.2 billion respectively (Natural Fit 2004).
Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety or depression will affect 1 in 6 people in the UK at some point in their lifetime (from the Faculty of Public Health). Whatever its cause, to have regular access to open, green spaces whether urban or natural can promote relaxation and provides an opportunity to "get away from it all" and enjoy nature. The NHS spent £6.5 billion on mental illness in 2002/03. Local authorities spent £1.4 billion and informal carers contribute an equivalent of £3.9 billion (Natural Fit 2004).
Work part at Bowdown by Rob Appleby