The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare is working with Central Bedfordshire on a project to determine the health benefits of exercising in nature. Encouraging more people to take exercise in green space could improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities.
We have helped Bedfordshire to establish a number of pilot sites in the borough, including a health walk and a green space redevelopment project. This will focus on meeting local health needs and trial various methodologies to assess health outcomes. The success of the pilot sites will be determined by whether participants experience health benefits, and the methodology used to assess these benefits will be evaluated. It is hoped that these case studies will encourage the establishment of more nature and wellbeing projects throughout Central Bedfordshire.
The project will engage both countryside access and health teams, and we have helped develop robust health monitoring systems which will be evaluated by a newly established steering group. As well as the pilot sites, the work will involve reviewing the area’s health priorities and identifying existing green space projects which could be used to engage target groups in the local population.
We have also created a one-pager, Prescribing Green Space – is it important?, to encourage local doctors to consider green prescriptions. The document summarises the evidence demonstrating the physical and mental health benefits of exercising in green space.