LIVERPOOL, 18-8-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — A green health and well-being programme launched in Liverpool, St Helens and Sefton will be evaluated by researchers at the University of Liverpool.
The Mersey Forest Nature4Health programme, funded by the National Lottery, plans to use the power of nature to help improve people’s minds and bodies.
The programme will include woodland walks, therapeutic gardening and practical conservation sessions to increase heart rate. It will also offer the evidence-based taught meditation technique of mindfulness in a natural setting.
Dr Catrin Eames, from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, who is part of the evaluation team, said: “Time spent in natural environments can improve physical and mental health, and is a key recommendation of the 2014 All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics to improve health and wellbeing within our cities.
“By exploring the natural environment as therapeutic interventions, we can evaluate their benefits in reducing the impact of health inequality, chronic ill health and stress.
“Nature4Health is an innovative programme, with real impact within communities in accessing and developing local green space as wellbeing hubs.
“We will be working with MerseyForest to evaluate the benefits of the programme in terms of mental health and wellbeing, and particularly evaluating mindfulness-based interventions within the natural environment in enhancing and maintaining positive change and outcome. “
Healthier and happier
Paul Nolan, Director of the Mersey Forest, said: “There’s a wealth of evidence that being out in woodlands and green spaces makes us healthier and happier. This programme will enable people to enjoy their local green spaces and get fitter at the same time.”
Physical Activity Exchange at Liverpool John Moores University will also study the new programme to see how it impacts on people’s health.
Nature4Health sessions will be available in Colliers Moss, St.Helens; Mab Lane, Liverpool; Dam Wood, Croxteth Park, Liverpool; Bootle South Recreation Ground, Sefton; Rimrose Country Park, Sefton with further venues to be announced.