Green spaces such as parks, forests, hills provide an opportunity for people to take time out from their daily routine and stressful environments and engage in nature, connect with their senses in outdoor activities. As populations become more urbanised, green spaces will provide a future key role in the promotion of health and well-being. Outdoor activities and health and well-being has many benefits, such as when visiting green spaces, simply viewing nature may assist in the maintenance of health. Wolf & Wohlfant (2014) claim as people visit green spaces regularly and engage in physical fitness, they are less likely to be overweight and by integrating regular visits to a park establishes good health and fitness routines which acts as an intervention to a sedentary life.
Forests are natural environments usually defined as ‘areas covered by trees. Forest bathing is a term used known as (‘shinrin-yoku’ in Japanese) it is a traditional meditative practice characterized by walking in a forest or other types of exercises which take place combined with awareness and contemplation of the surrounding natural environment (Antonelli et al. 2019). Although forest bathing originated in Japan, it has become popular in western countries to promote relaxation and aid in stress relief. Current evidence suggests there are additional benefits such as an improved immune system, cardiorespiratory and respiratory system and elevated mood.
Studies undertaken by Firby & Raine (2022) outline in their research there is increasing evidence to suggest the numerous health benefits from engagement with the outdoors, including enhanced immune functioning, improvement in sleep quality, mental health and well-being outcomes include reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, stress reduction and increased self-reported happiness.
Antonelli, M, Donelli, D, Carlone, L, Maggini, V Firenzuoli, F & Bedeschi, E (2022) Effects of forest bathing (shinrin-yoku) on individual well-being: an umbrella review, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 32:8, 1842-1867, doi: 10.1080/09603123.2021.1919293
Firby H, Raine R. (2022) Engaging with nature and the outdoors: A scoping review of therapeutic applications in contemporary occupational therapy. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 0(0). doi:10.1177/03080226221126893
Wolf, I. D. & Wohlfant, T. (2014) Walking, hiking and running in parks: A multidisciplinary assessment of health & well-being benefits. 130. Pp.89-103