A ground-breaking'Nature4Health' programme delivering healthy activities in local green spaces has changed people’s lives for the better.
Over the last three years, nearly 2,000 people took part in Nature4Health led by Mersey Forest with Liverpool John Moores University as a key evaluation partner and funded by The Big Lottery's Reaching Communities, which included a Match Funded PhD.
The evaluation revealed that people who took part increased their levels of walking and moderate physical activity by over a third. Participants also saw a significant improvement in their mental wellbeing. Behind the statistical results are some inspirational stories of how people's lives have changed for the better.
The findings are in line with growing evidence that the natural environment is important to health and wellbeing - and back up the calls for more 'green prescribing' in the government's 25 Year Plan for the Environment.
Future plans will involve delivering the 'Natural Health Service' to communities across Merseyside and North Cheshire.
Professor Zoe Knowles, who is based at the LJMU Physical Activity Exchange said: “From the outset the Nature for Health project committed to intervention design and approaches to evaluation that were innovative. We know that the interventions ‘work’ in benefitting a range of health outcomes but we have also used our research expertise to explore ‘why’ this is the case and as such will influence future intervention design.”
The team also worked closely with the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care, North West Coast and the University of Liverpool.