Nature Nearby is our Natural Health Service

Thursday 31st August 2017

Having healthy natural spaces nearby is important for our mental and physical health.

As an organisation MWT have always shouted about the importance of natural spaces on the Isle of Man, all the way from wildlife sites to our gardens. This is our third blog exploring the way nature is at the heart of our wellbeing and quality of life. We’re challenging ourselves here at MWT to make sure we raise awareness about just how important wild spaces can be for people.

What you may not have realised is quite how important nature and green spaces are in our lives. Nature plays an important role when it is nearby whether we know it or not [Petty et al 2005], and has proven links to our mental health, recovery, and is important in our quality of life. Wild spaces also change behaviour, making us spend more time outside, and can be linked to reduced crime rates [Kua and Sullivan 2001; Pretty et al 2013].

Access to places such as parks, green space or nearby nature like Wildlife Sites and Nature Reserves has been shown to improve our general health [Marmot Review, 2010]. The greenness and level of nature local to our homes can also mean we are around 1.5 times more likely to have better health [Sugiyama et al 2008]. Just having views of nature can even help.

Views of nature can help patients in hospital, children at home, and even workers on their way to work. At hospitals patients recover quicker from illness and surgery [Maller et al, 2006]. On the way to work views help recovery from stress and make it more unlikely [Parsons et al, 1998], while in work it reduces stress and increases job satisfaction. Overall landscapes with less nature help less with our health and can even be detrimental to our health [University of Essex, 2015].

Our work identifying and protecting valuable sites for wildlife, like our work on Wildlife Sites, make what may seem just about nature conservation becomes an important part of everyday life. This makes our work with planning and the Island’s Strategic Development Plan important to safeguard our natural heritage but also all the benefits we gain from a healthy natural environment.

Making sure we protect nature on the Isle of Man is critical, allowing its recovery has much wider benefits, and planning for it within our development gives everyone even more benefits. When we plan for all of this in the right way, we have healthier behaviours with nearby nature. People are three times more likely to be active with easy access to nature [Bowler et al, 2010]. What is at these places can also make a difference so that trees and vegetation make people spend more time outside and indirectly encourage healthy behaviours [Kuo et al, 1998]. Therefore, projects such as Ramsey Forest Eco-Active have so many benefits - helping wildlife, restoring woodland, but also getting people outdoors learning about nature and picking up healthy lifestyle habits from young ages.

When we can get out and about into natural spaces it can really help our mental health, which will be explored more in our next blog. Put simply it helps us recover from stress, and as there is more locally to us there is more wellbeing [White et al, 2013]. For children it goes further with it helping them cope with stress and concentrate more (Wells and Evans, 2003). When they get access to natural spaces at school it increases their activity outside school and even if it’s just 20 minutes a day at school it makes them 5 times more likely to do more healthy and vigorous exercise.

MWT Supporters after finishing ToughMann 2017The important role of nature in all our lives, is the reason this year MWT’s staff will be raising awareness of the importance of nature in our health and wellbeing while getting active with some challenges in the Manx landscape. We have already taken part in the Parish Walk and Tough Mann and will be walking and biking the End2End. We’ve made up a team and invite anyone to join us or support us through JustGiving.com. It is all about being healthy in a healthy natural environment.

Chief Executive Tim Graham says, “It’s amazing how natural spaces and wildlife can have a huge impact on our lives, even when they’re more or less unseen. It’s not just how amazing our wildlife is; it really has an impact on our health. Then there’s the double whammy of volunteering which can give so much to wildlife and to everyone involved.


Nature is a special part of all our lives, help us keep it that way. All our lives are a better when they’re a bit wild.

Start your wildlife adventure today: Tweet your story using #MyWildLife, Share it with us on Facebook, or Support us on JustGiving.


 






Tagged with: Fundraising, Health and Wellbeing, MyWildLife, Nature & Wellbeing, People & Nature, Wildlife