Encouragement to exercise. Text is extract from the Report for the Health Council of the Netherlands and Dutch Advisory Council for Research on Spatial Planning, Nature and the Environment. 2004. Nature and Health. The influence of nature on social, psychological and physical well-being. The whole report (pdf)
"Nature can indirectly improve health by encouraging exercise. Exercise has a positive effect on numerous health determinants, including overweight. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus (type II), for example. If the policy remains unchanged, lack of exercise will become more common, with major implications for the state of public health. The encouragement of recreational and daily exercise is therefore an important intervention strategy. Until now, many intervention strategies have concentrated on general education and awareness-raising. An important question is whether a ‘green’ living and working environment encourages people to exercise more on a daily basis.
There are indications in a large number of studies that the environment is an important determinant of exercise. However, it is much less clear whether the environment must be ‘green’ to encourage people, even though the limited amount of available research does suggest this. Evaluations of a few existing programmes for encouraging exercise indicate that an attractive, green environment close to home and work provides the best opportunities to encourage daily exercise in the form of walking and cycling. It has also emerged that people keep exercising for longer in natural surroundings.
New research should concentrate mainly on the type of nature and the distance to the living and working environment. Relevant research issues are: How can green facilities in the immediate living and working environment be made as inviting as possible? Are there adequate opportunities for walking and cycling in green surroundings in, or close to, our main cities and close to businesses and offices? And what is the significance of this green environment for the health and productivity of people whose work involves little exercise?"
- Green Gym, UK, offers the opportunity to 'work out' in the open air through local, practical environmental or gardening work.
- Walking the way to Health, UK, promotes and sets the standards for led health walks.
- Active Woods, UK, is a programme that helps to give people opportunities to get out into Britain's woodlands and get active.