Health of nation at heart of accord between National Parks and Public Health England

England's 10 National Parks have joined forces with Public Health England on a project to improve physical and mental well-being.

Family walking near White Moor. Image: New Forest National Park
Family walking near White Moor. Image: New Forest National Park

The bodies signed a Joint Accord, following recent research which showed that six million people in the country are not even managing to take a 10-minute brisk walk once a month. It will build on work already being carried out to encourage more people to experience the many health benefits of getting out and active in National Parks.

The Joint Accord was launched by the public health minister Steve Brine MP in the South Downs National Park on Friday.

He said: "This accord is a win-win. Not only does it help preserve our beautiful national parks, but encourages people to get active, adding years to our lives and saving billions of pounds for our NHS.

"Physical activity helps to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions. So I am delighted to help launch this Accord, and I cannot think of a better place to get active than in our National Parks."

National parks minister Lord Gardiner said: "England’s National Parks are not only some of our most stunning landscapes – they connect people across the country with nature and have a crucial role in improving our physical health and mental well-being. This accord is a great step forward and shows how we can harness our natural environment to keep our communities well and healthy."

National parks, alongside urban parks are already working on a series of initiatives designed to get people moving in a natural setting. The New Forest National Park, for example, hosts an annual walking festival which attracts more than 2,000 people to 80 guided walks where they can find out more about caring for the forest while taking a healthy stroll.

It also runs Walking for Health groups that run weekly short and easy walks to help people become more active. Inclusive cycling charity, PEDALL, takes people with disabilities out for cycle rides in the park using a fleet of specially-adapted bikes. 

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