Why naturally healthy?
Devon’s natural environment is incredible and offers a variety of ways for us all to be naturally healthy whether that is walking on the moors, cycling, swimming, relaxing in woods to name but a few opportunities. Naturally healthy interventions offer a chance to learn new skills, meet new people and increase activity levels.
Reconnecting our communities with themselves and their natural environment has clear benefits to health and wellbeing and will also help people value the natural world. Physical inactivity is one of the most significant wider determinants of health and is an area where the naturally healthy approach can have a significant positive impact. It is clear that our current medical approach does not meet all of the needs of our communities and as a society we are becoming more disconnected from our communities and the natural environment.
At a time when concerns are rising about mental and physical health issues and their link to modern lifestyles it offers truly transformative opportunities. Interventions are proven, cost effective and safe and, as well as benefitting individuals, have a positive impact on communities. Reconnecting our populations with the natural world helps them value the ecosystem services that we rely on for life and increases awareness of the challenges facing our environment.
Being naturally active is even more important for people whose health is not as good as it could be. Improving access is a must if we’re to harness Devon’s natural benefits and reduce inequalities in health. Devon provides endless opportunities for being ‘naturally active’, but many of us don’t access these benefits from the environment, particularly those over 65, those on low pay or unemployed, members of minority groups and people with disabilities or long term illness. Just 13% of adults in Devon regularly participate in sport or active recreation (including walking and cycling).
There is a wealth of evidence that taking the time to reconnect with the natural environment offers huge benefits for our health and wellbeing amongst which:
- It reduces stress levels.
- It encourages people to be more active, which is very good for health.
- It helps people avoid getting ill.
- It helps people keep stable once they have got an illness.
- People live longer if they live near areas of green space.
Devon’s Naturally Healthy Initiative is led by the Devon Local Nature Partnership. It brings together a wide range of partners from the health, wellbeing, community and environment sectors to ensure that everyone in Devon is happier and healthier through an increased connection with nature.
Visit naturaldevon.org.uk for information on the evidence base, Naturally Healthy opportunities, case studies and our work to date. If you are an organisation interested in the Naturally Healthy agenda you can join the Devon Naturally Healthy Forum to connect with other interested partners, receive invitations to workshops, conferences and the LNP newsletter.