Walking back to happiness in the New Forest National Park

Published Wednesday 5 May 2010

New research shows that exercising in the countryside for just five minutes can boost your mental health, and the New Forest National Park Authority has the tools to help you do it.

A new study by the University of Essex showed that ‘green exercise’ – physical activity in the presence of nature - led to mental and physical health improvements and just five minutes produced the largest positive effect.

The Authority has a range of events and online tools to help people reap the health benefits of exercise in the National Park – with everything from guided walks, to trails accessible by wheelchairs and pushchairs, and downloadable audio tours so your mp3 player can help guide you around points of interest.

The National Park Authority and its partners are about to recruit a healthy walks coordinator to set up a group of volunteers to lead healthy walks, develop new trails and events, and to work with people who have been referred onto the walks by their GP.

Saira Sheldrake, the New Forest National Park Authority’s Recreation Officer, said: ‘I would encourage people of all ages to get out and about and enjoy the special qualities of the New Forest. Exercising in this spectacular landscape is not only good for your physical health but for your general mood and well-being as well.

‘The New Forest is ideal for older people, young families and those who find it hard to get around because there is a wide range of level and surfaced routes suitable for buggies, pushchairs and mobility vehicles.’   

New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council and Community First New Forest are helping to fund the new role.

Visit our walks page

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Notes to editors:
The research by Dr Jo Barton and Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex is published online (and in print on 15 May) in the American journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’. For more details visit: www.essex.ac.uk/news/event.aspx?e_id=1588

Media Contact:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608
Email: hilary.makin@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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