The extract below is taken from “Brief on Outdoor Activity”, government of Quebec.
People who engage in outdoor activities and those who live in “green neighbourhoods” report being in better physical and mental health.36,88,148,154,173 According to de Vries and van Dillen, nature can have a positive effect on mental health by means of three key variables: stress reduction, stimulating physical activity and the facilitation of social cohesion.35 The benefits of outdoor activity on health and well-being are summarized in the figure below.
FIGURE 1: THE BENEFITS OF OUTDOOR ACTIVITY ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Natural spaces, especially those close to where people live, provide local spaces where people can be active. Access to parks and inviting natural spaces is linked to higher levels of physical activity,25,51,174 since people are more motivated to get active than they would be in a built environment.51 A literature review by Gray et al.60 revealed a positive correlation between the time people spend outdoors and their level of physical activity, especially among young people.Nature, along with its various forms, textures and elements, is a source of challenge for children and offers them an environment in which they can invent their own games and activities. Branches, leaves and stones—examples of elements that are freely available in nature and that are easy to pick up and carry—entice children to spend more time outdoors and interest them more than manufactured objects.38 For adults, nature can be a source of inspiration to explore and escape.18,6