General links between nature and health

On this page you can find evidence and resources relating to how living in greener environments relates to health and wellbeing. On the linked page you can find evidence on how nature based interventions promote health.

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The People and Nature Survey for England gathers evidence and trend data through an online survey relating to people’s enjoyment, access, understanding of and attitudes to the natural environment, and it’s contributions to wellbeing.

“Making the Most of Green Space for People’s Health” is guidance for Local Authorities and other stakeholders on the ways in which green space benefits health, and can be improved, expanded and promoted to maximise benefits for people and place. You can download a poster of the Making the Most of Green Space for People’s Health guidance from this link and you download a PDF of the whole Making the Most of Green Space for Peoples Health guidance from this link. You can visit the web pages using this link Making the Most of Green Space for People’s Health.


Lovell, R., White, M., Wheeler, Benedict., Taylor, T., Elliott, E. (2020) A rapid scoping review of health and wellbeing evidence for the Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards. Report for Natural England, Defra, PHE, MHCLG.

Public Health England. (2020) Improving access to greenspace. A new review for 2020. London.

Maxwell, S., & Lovell, R. (2017). Evidence statement on the links between natural environments and human health. Defra.

World Health Organization. (2016). Urban green spaces and health: a review of evidence. World Health Organization: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Buck D. (2016) Gardens and health. Implications for policy and practice. London: King’s Fund.

Systematic reviews of the links

Zhang, R., Zhang, C. Q., & Rhodes, R. E. (2021). The pathways linking objectively-measured greenspace exposure and mental health: A systematic review of observational studies. Environmental Research, 111233.

Yuan, Y., Huang, F., Lin, F., Zhu, P., & Zhu, P. (2020). Green space exposure on mortality and cardiovascular outcomes in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 1-15.

Luo, Y. N., Huang, W. Z., Liu, X. X., Markevych, I., Bloom, M. S., Zhao, T., … & Dong, G. H. (2020). Greenspace with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of epidemiological studies up to 2020. Obesity reviews, 21(11), e13078.

de Keijzer, C., Bauwelinck, M., & Dadvand, P. (2020). Long-term exposure to residential greenspace and healthy ageing: a systematic review. Current environmental health reports, 7(1), 65-88.

Shin, J. C., Parab, K. V., An, R., & Grigsby-Toussaint, D. S. (2020). Greenspace exposure and sleep: A systematic review. Environmental research, 182, 109081.

Collins, R. M., Spake, R., Brown, K. A., Ogutu, B. O., Smith, D., & Eigenbrod, F. (2020). A systematic map of research exploring the effect of greenspace on mental health. Landscape and Urban Planning, 201, 103823.

oberts H, van Lissa C, Hagedoorn P, Kellar I, Helbich M (2019) The effect of short-term exposure to the natural environment on depressive mood: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental research. Oct 1;177:108606.

Rojas-Rueda, D., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Gascon, M., Perez-Leon, D., & Mudu, P. (2019). Green spaces and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. The Lancet Planetary Health, 3(11), e469-e477.

Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental research, 166, 628-637.

Houlden, V., Weich, S., Porto de Albuquerque, J., Jarvis, S., & Rees, K. (2018). The relationship between greenspace and the mental wellbeing of adults: A systematic review. PloS one, 13(9), e0203000.

Gascon, M., Zijlema, W., Vert, C., White, M. P., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2017). Outdoor blue spaces, human health and well-being: A systematic review of quantitative studies. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 220(8), 1207-1221.

de Keijzer, C., Gascon, M., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., & Dadvand, P. (2016). Long-term green space exposure and cognition across the life course: a systematic review. Current environmental health reports, 3(4), 468-477.

Gascon, M., Triguero-Mas, M., Martínez, D., Dadvand, P., Forns, J., Plasència, A., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2015). Mental health benefits of long-term exposure to residential green and blue spaces: a systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 12(4), 4354-4379.

Van den Berg, M., Wendel-Vos, W., Van Poppel, M., Kemper, H., van Mechelen, W., & Maas, J. (2015). Health benefits of green spaces in the living environment: A systematic review of epidemiological studies. Urban forestry & urban greening, 14(4), 806-816.

Primary studies

Birch, J., Rishbeth, C. & Payne, S. (2020) Nature doesn’t judge you – how urban nature supports young people’s mental health and wellbeing in a diverse UK city. Health and Place


You can find further papers from the University of Exeter team on the ‘Published Papers’ pages of the blog.

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