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The UK's primary care sustainability network

Nature and health

Nature-Based Health Interventions are programmes, activities or strategies that aim to engage people in nature–based experiences with the specific goal of achieving improved health and wellbeing.

When thinking about Nature based interventions it is useful to consider two types: 

Population level interventions that change the environment in which people live, work, learn, recreate or heal (e.g. the provision of gardens in hospitals or parks in cities). These interventions can help prevent ill-health, recovery from ill-health and or the impact of long-term conditions. Developing these interventions may be at the level of urban planning or at a more local level such as creating a pocket garden in a GP surgery or a community allotment.  

Patient-level interventions that engage people in activities or organised programmes. These are also known by the terms ‘Green and Blue Prescribing’ (with Blue Prescribing referring to nature activities related to water). Green Prescribing can range from suggesting patients go for a daily walk in the park, through to group-based activities in nature.  

Evidence of benefit of nature on health

Being able to spend time in nature as well as engage with nature through activities, have all been found to be related to improved health outcomes. 

Have a look at this 2-minute video to learn about some of the benefits of nature-based health interventions: 

There is strong evidence for the impact of nature on reducing depression and anxiety, reducing stress, improving sleep, increased attention, memory and creativity and better psychological restoration.  Studies have also show found that the benefits of spending time in nature include, lower cardiovascular diseases, lower obesity, lower type 2 diabetes, improved immune functioning, improved birth outcomes and reduced mortality from all causes. This commentary from 2019 offers an excellent summary.