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Why we all need more Green Health

Bridget Finton, Health and Participation Officer at NatureScot, introduces Green Health Week and why time spent in nature is so important for our health and wellbeing.

Published: 12/05/2023

Close up of a woman with shoulder length hair looking at the camera and smiling

Born in the suburbs of London, my best memories are of being able to walk to primary school, playing in the local woods, and family holidays in countryside settings. Of childhood holiday experiences, most vivid in my mind are the beautiful landscapes that offered space, freedom, big views and such pride when we got to the top of a hill. No wonder I moved to Scotland 30 years ago, we have the best of landscapes!

Evidence of the positive links between the natural environment and human health and wellbeing has grown a lot over the last two decades, and supports what many of us feel intuitively, spending time in nature is good for us. There are also numerous powerful personal stories of how the natural environment provides the key motivation for adopting and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. This became more evident during the pandemic as more of us made use of and valued our local green spaces which enabled us to re-connect with place, purpose and people.

A group of 5 people are walking on a wooden walkway next to a river with trees lining the riverbank

Green Health Week runs from 13 to 19 of May. Instigated in 2019 by NatureScot as part of the Our Natural Health Service programme, this is its 4th year (we missed 2020). It’s a week that aims to celebrate and promote how spending time outdoors in natural settings can help improve people’s health and happiness. Many partners are contributing, and in particular, the organisations involved in the four Green Health Partnerships (GHPs) that have helped demonstrate the Our Natural Health Service approach. If you live in Highland, North Ayrshire, Lanarkshire or Dundee, check out what the Green Health Partnership is promoting in your area.

From our mountains and coasts to our local woods, riversides and urban greenspaces, Scotland is blessed with a vast and diverse health-promoting outdoor resource. Our world-leading outdoor access legislation means that this resource is widely available for activities such as walking, biking, picnicking, bird-watching and enjoying time with family and friends.

Please make the most of our great outdoors and nearby nature, it’s good for body and soul.  Where will you go for your daily dose of physical activity and mental refreshment?