Believe it or not, whenever planning permission is required to build on countryside areas or around green space, councils have to take the health and psychological well-being of residents into consideration. The effects of endless urban sprawl are more than just an aesthetic unpleasantness; there's peer-reviewed published research that 'green exercise', as it were, has the potential to improve not just our physical health, but our mood, behaviour and even our attitudes. In this entry of the Waterman's Country Supplies blog, we'll lay out a handy list of studies and arguments that speak of the positive relationship between the countryside and your health and well-being.
Time and time again, studies have concluded that the happiest of our country's inhabitants are those lucky enough to be living out in rural areas. Whilst this can surely be attributed to the greater number of friendly faces to be found in such a small, local community, a study by the National Office of Statistics in 2013 also found that access to green space was directly proportional to a region's happiness. Without packed trains and arduous commutes, it's no wonder why laid back, countryside-covered areas like Northern Ireland and Scotland ranked so high, whilst areas like Reading, Slough and Brighton were considred "stressful" places to live.
But why would having easy access to fields, farms and forests make someone feel so happier and healthier? There's certainly advantages and disadvantages to be found when comparing country living to having a home in the city, but when it comes to the way lustre British green space can benefit your physical health, it's pretty one-sided. For children, having a great big garden or nearby expanse of land mean there's loads of places of kids to run, play and jump around, and to discover that there's a wider world outside the world wide web!
In general, a walk is good in any environment, but there particular health benefits in going for a good walk in the countryside vs. a quick stroll around the block. The biodiversity and open air of the countryside helps the body maximise the effects of the immune system and fight of infection, including common bugs and ailments, and with more interesting and diverse routes to travel and scenery to enjoy, achieving that 10,000 steps a day recommended by the NHS is quite literally a walk in the park.
When it comes to the countryside and your health and well-being, its largely about the negative things the rural life lacks that city living has in abundance. As this picture perfect piece in Country Living nicely paints, even the littlest annoyance of urban life, from early morning construction work to the presence of cold linoleum in place of grass, it's clear to see why a drawn out experience in the hustle and bustle of the city would wear you down if it's not your cup of medium black, chain-store coffee.
If there's one thing we regret with this post so far, it's that we've pictured a rather one-note view of the countryside. More than just a blanket of fields and farms, even right here in the UK you can find plenty of variety when it comes to natural space, where even living by a creek or mountain can help you live a happier, healthier and longer life.