Exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of National Parks
Published: Friday 2nd Apr 2021
Written by: The Original Cottages Team
As a corporate member, Original Cottages helps support the ongoing work of Campaign for National Parks. Formerly the Standing Committee on National Parks then the Council for National Parks, the 85-year old organisation played a key role in pushing for the designation of National Parks in this England and Wales and continues to campaign to protect and improve them.
We invited Laura, from the Campaign for National Parks to write a guest blog on the health and wellbeing benefits of national parks.
It’s 70 years since the first National Parks were created in the UK as part of the post-war recovery. One of the main drivers of creating them was to give people access to beautiful natural landscapes and the health and wellbeing benefits that brings.
Campaign for National Parks (CNP) played a key role in pushing for their creation and continues to campaign for more accessible, better protected National Parks in England and Wales. Original Cottages supports them with this mission. As plans are afoot to create new National Parks in England, CNP has an ongoing role to play to ensure National Parks can play a leading role in our green recovery.
Most National Parks reported huge rises in visitor numbers – including many first-time visitors - in between lockdowns as people turned to their local National Park to help them through the challenges of a global pandemic.
Some National Parks formalised this through social prescribing schemes where people were prescribed time in nature by their local NHS provider to help improve their mental health; its led to National Parks being dubbed the ‘Natural Health Service’ (for more on this, see this article courtesy of the South Downs National Park).
The Parks not only offer the space to enjoy socially distanced exercise and leisure activities with friends and family, but they provide a wide range of health and wellbeing benefits.
Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at University of Derby, wrote a brilliant blog for Campaign for National Parks outlining how connecting with nature can boost your health and wellbeing.
It helps focus the mind, manage moods and tackle negative feelings associated with social isolation – you’re never alone in nature, there’s always birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife to watch and listen to.
Andrew Higson, of Black Dog Outdoors, explored this further in another blog saying: ‘National Parks give us the peace and tranquillity to ease busy minds. They give us all the things that we often take for granted in the fast pace of modern society. Most importantly they give us the opportunity to re-discover and centre ourselves and, even if only for a day or two, they allow us to find some inner peace. It is precisely this re-connection with nature that we believe improves our mental health and wellbeing… and it costs nothing!!! So what are you waiting for?’