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07 Jan 2019

Earth therapy: Here's why doctors are prescribing nature
BY Andrew Manns

Extensive research suggests that outdoor activities can help to relieve various psychological and physiological ailments.

Extensive research suggests that outdoor activities can help to relieve various psychological and physiological ailments.
photo: Courtesy of Shuttershock

Feeling unwell? A cure might be closer than you think. Doctors in the UK now have the authority to prescribe "nature" as a treatment for certain ailments.

Medical practitioners since the days of Ancient Greece have recommended nature-based therapies, such as visits to thermal springs and pilgrimages to remote groves and sanctuaries.

The practice, however, appears to be coming back into fashion with modern-day physicians in Scotland. The reason for the resurgence seems to stem from an overwhelming amount of evidence attesting to the psychological and physical benefits of such therapies.

For example, in a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, researchers demonstrated that trees and woodlands can have a healing effect on the mind.

Similarly, a report released in 2010 by scientists at the University of Essex’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society found that regular nature walks can improve mental wellness.

Another article – published in 2015 with the American Academy of the Sciences – even went so far as to call natural areas "vital for mental health" in an increasingly urbanised world.

Finally, NHS Forest, a collaborative project which explores the empirical links between health and the environment, has also stressed the nature's well-being benefits.

"The health of patients, staff and local communities," the group said in a statement, "can be dramatically improved by providing opportunities to exercise outdoors and access green spaces including woodlands."

Given the mounting evidence, it's no surprise that the UK is not the only country taking steps to reemphasise the importance of Mother Nature for human health. As recently reported in The Guardian and Quartz, Canada and the US are also investing in comparable programmes.



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Earth therapy: Here's why doctors are prescribing nature
POSTED 07 Jan 2019 . BY Andrew Manns
Feeling unwell? A cure might be closer than you think. Doctors in the UK now have the authority to prescribe "nature" as a treatment for certain ailments.

Medical practitioners since the days of Ancient Greece have recommended nature-based therapies, such as visits to thermal springs and pilgrimages to remote groves and sanctuaries.

The practice, however, appears to be coming back into fashion with modern-day physicians in Scotland. The reason for the resurgence seems to stem from an overwhelming amount of evidence attesting to the psychological and physical benefits of such therapies.

For example, in a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, researchers demonstrated that trees and woodlands can have a healing effect on the mind.

Similarly, a report released in 2010 by scientists at the University of Essex’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society found that regular nature walks can improve mental wellness.

Another article – published in 2015 with the American Academy of the Sciences – even went so far as to call natural areas "vital for mental health" in an increasingly urbanised world.

Finally, NHS Forest, a collaborative project which explores the empirical links between health and the environment, has also stressed the nature's well-being benefits.

"The health of patients, staff and local communities," the group said in a statement, "can be dramatically improved by providing opportunities to exercise outdoors and access green spaces including woodlands."

Given the mounting evidence, it's no surprise that the UK is not the only country taking steps to reemphasise the importance of Mother Nature for human health. As recently reported in The Guardian and Quartz, Canada and the US are also investing in comparable programmes.
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