Human health benefits from interactions with nature

People gain a diversity of health and wellbeing benefits from their interactions with nature, including physical, psychological and social benefits. These can be particularly important for human populations in urban areas, where lifestyles are commonly associated with growth in the incidence of chronic and non-communicable diseases (e.g. depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes). Key challenges that we conduct research into are to determine the relative importance to health benefits of the form of nature interactions, their frequency and their duration, which components of nature are most significant for delivering these benefits, and what is the form of the resultant dose-response relationships (i.e. how health benefits change with the magnitude of a ‘dose of nature’).

Key references

Cox, D.T.C., Plummer, K.E., Shanahan, D.F., Siriwardena, G.M., Fuller, R.A., Anderson, K., Hancock, S. & Gaston, K.J. 2017. Doses of neighborhood nature: the benefits for mental health of living with nature. BioScience 67, 147-155.

Dallimer, M., Irvine, K.N., Skinner, A.M.J., Davies, Z.G., Rouquette, J.R., Armsworth, P.R., Maltby, L., Warren, P.H. & Gaston, K.J. 2012. Biodiversity and the feel-good factor: understanding associations between self-reported human well-being and species richness. BioScience 62, 46-55.

Shanahan, D.F., Bush, R., Lin, B.B., Gaston, K.J., Barber, L., Dean, J. & Fuller, R.A. 2015. Towards improved public health outcomes from urban nature. American Journal of Public Health 105, 470-477.

Shanahan, D.F., Fuller, R.F., Bush, R., Lin, B.B. & Gaston, K.J. 2015. The health benefits of urban nature: how much do we need? BioScience 65, 476-485.