Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits, a recent study has concluded.
Research from the University of East Anglia revealed that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.
Lead author Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said, "Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn't been fully understood."
Green space was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban green spaces, which included urban parks and street greenery.
The team analysed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure.
Study co-author Prof Andy Jones, also from UEA, said: "We often reach for medication when we're unwell but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognised as both preventing and helping treat disease. Our study shows that the size of these benefits can be enough to have a meaningful clinical impact."
The research team hopes that their findings will prompt doctors and other healthcare professionals to recommend that patients spend more time in green space and natural areas.
The full findings are published in the journal- Environmental Research.