Health benefits in open spaces

The positive relationship between exposure to green space and health has been highlighted in research from the University of Essex.

According to Jo Barton, a senior researcher at the university's Centre for Environment and Society, the quality of green space plays a key role. "The quality and quantity of the green space really affects physical and mental health," explained Barton, speaking at the GreenSpace East forum on 20 January.

The research looked at two projects. In the first study, the team compared improvements in mood and energy levels when members of a local association played indoor games such as bingo and crosswords and went swimming and walking in a green space.

"We found levels of anger, depression, fatigue and tension all improved the most in the green exercise group," said Barton.

In the second study, a group of disaffected inner-city teenagers was taken out of the city and introduced to green spaces by green charity the Wilderness Foundation.

"The most important thing was to teach them how to use their green space when they got home to experience the same benefits that had helped them during their time away," said Barton.

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