improved well being

Improved well-being

Green Space and Health

The houses of parliament, parliamentary office of science and technology has produced a key briefing note that touches upon the well-being benefits of green space, as well as the challenges in green space creation and maintenance


  • Physical and mental illnesses associated with sedentary urban lifestyles are an increasing economic and social cost.
  • Areas with more accessible green space are associated with better mental and physical health.
  • The risk of mortality caused by cardiovascular disease is lower in residential areas that have higher levels of ‘greenness’.
  • There is evidence that exposure to nature could be used as part of the treatment for some conditions.
  • There are challenges to providing green spaces, such as how to make parks easily accessible and how to fund both their creation and maintenance.

 Parliamentary research briefings

Further briefings

NHS Forest

In times of stress or ill health to be able to spend time outside in nature is a very simple way of feeling better in both body and mind.  These benefits are now being actively promoted by the NHS.

“Access to greenspace, particularly including trees, reduces cortisol (stress) levels, increases physical activity and speeds recovery if you have been ill.  The NHS Forest makes the simple connection between health and the environment.

The NHS Forest provides a chance to engage patients, staff, visitors and the wider community together in a positive, inclusive and very tangible project. The NHS Forest is an easy way to encourage people inside healthcare organisations to look outside their windows and begin to connect to their immediate environment, leading on to understanding of, and engagement with, wider environmental issues, in particular climate change.

Planting trees and making healthcare organisations greener, physically nicer places can save money.  Not only are maintenance costs often reduced, but staff morale is improved, patients recover more quickly and are therefore using fewer resources.  In the longer term, communities who have better access to greenspace stay physically and mentally healthier.”

NHS Forest evidence

A Dose of Nature: Addressing chronic health conditions by using the environment

Medical research from around the world demonstrates that a Green Prescription can deliver physiological and psychological benefits for patients, even if the exact mechanisms by which these accrue are not yet fully understood. The evidence also shows that doctors are ready and willing to give Green Prescriptions, and that an effective partnership with other providers is required.

NHS Forest – Dose of Nature evidence report

The benefits of gardening and food growing for health and well-being

This study reviews the extensive scientific literature showing the benefits of gardening and community food growing for both physical and mental health. It presents a compelling case for action by health professionals and the NHS; local authority planners and Government planning policy specialists to create, protect and promote gardening and community food growing.

Sustainweb – The benefits of gardening and food growing

Feel better outside, feel better inside report

Ecotherapy is an intervention that improves mental and physical health and wellbeing by supporting people to be active outdoors: doing gardening, food growing or environmental work. This report provides the people who plan, commission and provide health and social care services with compelling evidence for providing ecotherapy services that can: • help people look after their mental wellbeing • support people who may be at risk of developing a mental health problem • help the recovery of people with existing mental health problems.

Mind – Feel better outside, feel better inside

King’s Fund – Gardens and health Report – May 2016

This report was commissioned by the National Gardens Scheme in 2015. Its intention is to contribute to the understanding, assessment and development of the links between gardens, gardening and health. It sets out the evidence base on how gardens and gardening relate to health across the life-course. It highlights how, at different points in the health and social care system, gardens and gardening can make a strong contribution to keeping us well and independent.

Kings Fund – Gardens and health

Social and therapeutic horticulture: evidence and messages from research

The reported benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture include increased self-esteem and self confidence, the development of horticultural, social and work skills, literacy and numeracy skills, an increased sense of general well-being and the opportunity for social interaction and the development of independence

Dspace Evidence