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Open Countryside Spaces and Human Health

This articles comes from a founding member of our team, Ann Burchnall, who excelled in a number of professional positions during her long career in the healthcare system.

It has been known for many years that exercise has amazing benefits. If this can take place outside the benefits are greatly increased. Doctors now prescribe walking and other forms of exercise for a range of illnesses with amazing results.

Here in the Suffolk countryside we all have access to the freedom of open space and glorious views. Just looking at this can help lower the blood pressure and still the mind, and it is FREE. No prescription necessary.

Solar panels on our farmland will change all this. We will no longer benefit from seeing the changing colours of the fields and the wonderful smell as the soil is ploughed for the next crop. The song of the Skylark brings great joy as they fly up from the secret nesting sites on the stubble. Solar panels will ruin this.

I list below some points to emphasise how important our landscape is.

Physical Health

Regular brisk walking will:
~ Improve performance of the heart, lungs and circulation
~ Lower blood pressure
~ Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes – inactive and unfit people have double the risk of dying from coronary heart disease
~ Walking regularly at any speed will
~ Help manage weight.
~ Reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes
~ Reduce the risk of certain cancers such colon, breast and lung cancer
~ Improve flexibility and strength of joints, muscles and bones, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
~ Increase “good” cholesterol
~ Boost the immune system

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Walking improves wellbeing and helps fight stress and depression:
~ Walking, like other physical activities, releases endorphins which improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety
~ Feeling fitter and controlling weight helps improve your body image and confidence
~ Active people have a reduced risk of suffering clinical depression
~ Walking in a group is a sociable activity that can help improve mental health and overcome feelings of isolation
~ Spending time in the outdoors and in contact with the natural environment – walking in our local green spaces – can have a positive effect on mental health
~ You don’t need to concentrate on the walking itself, leaving you free to enjoy your surroundings, chat to friends and family or just relax.
~ You can enjoy a variety of surroundings as you walk in different places and different seasons

Conclusion

Removing the beautiful open views by planting solar panels will have a detrimental effect on the wildlife and soundscape which so many walkers enjoy so much. As human nature is to seek out things they enjoy doing, if walking in the area becomes less enjoyable, then less people are likely to be doing enough walking to maintain their health. With this comes the potential for so many health issues, and the consequences of which falls on to the NHS. And all when a tranquil wide open landscape could have minimised that.

Can we ask you something (other than asking to ask)? Your personal experience on how natural spaces affects your own mental health is important! Take our short 2 minute Natural Spaces & Mental Health survey.

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