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HEA7

HEA7 - Optimising the health and wellbeing benefits of the natural environment

Overview

Interventions using the natural environment can deliver cost savings for health and health-related services and improve physical and mental health outcomes.

  • Photo by Nikoline Arns
  • Image Walking Woods
  • Photo by Micheile Henderson

Policy

The city will ensure the health and wellbeing benefits of Plymouth's natural environment will be optimised through the following measures:

  1. Providing high quality, health promoting places to play near to where children live and that families are confident to enjoy and explore.
  2. Working with schools, health centres, family support organisations and local sports and community groups, and through cultural activities, to encourage the use of natural spaces as places for relaxation, recreation and fun.
  3. Utilising natural spaces near schools for curriculum based 'learning outside of the classroom' experiences and continuing to facilitate a network of schools that utilise natural spaces for learning outcomes.
  4. Engaging in a co-operative and innovative way to improve the quantity and quality of the playing pitches stock and ancillary facilities, and using the planning process to protect and improve playing pitch provision in the city, matching the requirements of Plymouth's growth.

Rationale

There is clear evidence that interventions using the natural environment can deliver cost savings for health and health-related services and improve physical and mental health outcomes. So increasing the amount, and more crucially the quality, of green spaces and improving access to them, can be part of a cost-effective package to address health inequalities and improve health outcomes. The Council's 'Stepping Stones to Nature' programme has demonstrated the significant benefits of removing the perceptual and physical barriers to people accessing nature. Engaging people with natural spaces to realise health and wellbeing benefits has now been embedded as standard practice.

Participating in formal sport, as a key part of wider physical activity, can also play an important role in getting and keeping people active and thereby improving their health and wellbeing. Whatever the age, there is evidence that being physically active can help us lead healthier lives. To encourage increasing levels of engagement in outdoor sport the provision of high quality facilities must be an essential part of the growth of a healthy city. A key focus is encouraging those who are currently inactive to become active.

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